☒Annual Report Pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934
For the fiscal year ended: December 31, 2020
☐Transition Report Pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934
For the transition period from to
Commission file number: 001-13221
CULLEN/FROST BANKERS, INC.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
(State or other jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)
(I.R.S. Employer Identification No.)
111 W. Houston Street,
(Address of principal executive offices)
(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of each class
Name of each exchange on which registered
Common Stock, $.01 Par Value
New York Stock Exchange
Depositary Shares, each representing a 1/40th interest in a share of 4.450% Non-Cumulative Perpetual Preferred Stock, Series B
New York Stock Exchange
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes☒ No ☐
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act. Yes ☐No☒
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes☒ No ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files). Yes☒ No ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company,” and “emerging growth company,” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management's assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report. ☒
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act). Yes ☐ No ☒
As of June 30, 2020, the last business day of the registrant’s most recently completed second fiscal quarter, the aggregate market value of the shares of common stock held by non-affiliates, based upon the closing price per share of the registrant’s common stock as reported on The New York Stock Exchange, Inc., was approximately $4.5 billion.
As of January 28, 2021, there were 63,165,980 shares of the registrant’s common stock, $.01 par value, outstanding.
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Portions of the Proxy Statement for the 2021 Annual Meeting of Shareholders of Cullen/Frost Bankers, Inc. to be held on April 28, 2021 are incorporated by reference in this Form 10-K in response to Part III, Items 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14.
The disclosures set forth in this item are qualified by Item 1A. Risk Factors and the section captioned “Forward-Looking Statements and Factors that Could Affect Future Results” in Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations of this report and other cautionary statements set forth elsewhere in this report.
Cullen/Frost Bankers, Inc., a Texas business corporation incorporated in 1977, is a financial holding company and a bank holding company headquartered in San Antonio, Texas that provides, through its subsidiaries, a broad array of products and services throughout numerous Texas markets. The terms “Cullen/Frost,” “the Corporation,” “we,” “us” and “our” mean Cullen/Frost Bankers, Inc. and its subsidiaries, when appropriate. We offer commercial and consumer banking services, as well as trust and investment management, insurance, brokerage, mutual funds, leasing, treasury management, capital markets advisory and item processing services. At December 31, 2020, Cullen/Frost had consolidated total assets of $42.4 billion and was one of the largest independent bank holding companies headquartered in the State of Texas.
Our philosophy is to grow and prosper, building long-term relationships based on top quality service, high ethical standards, and safe, sound assets. We operate as a locally-oriented, community-based financial services organization, augmented by experienced, centralized support in select critical areas. Our local market orientation is reflected in our regional management and regional advisory boards, which are comprised of local business persons, professionals and other community representatives that assist our regional management in responding to local banking needs. Despite this local market, community-based focus, we offer many of the products available at much larger money-center financial institutions.
We serve a wide variety of industries including, among others, energy, manufacturing, services, construction, retail, telecommunications, healthcare, military and transportation. Our customer base is similarly diverse. While our loan portfolio has a significant concentration of energy-related loans totaling approximately 7.1% of total loans (or 8.2% excluding Paycheck Protection Program loans) at December 31, 2020, we are not dependent upon any single industry or customer.
Our operating objectives include expansion, diversification within our markets, growth of our fee-based income, and growth internally and through acquisitions of financial institutions, branches and financial services businesses. We generally seek merger or acquisition partners that are culturally similar and have experienced management and possess either significant market presence or have potential for improved profitability through financial management, economies of scale and expanded services. From time to time, we evaluate merger and acquisition opportunities and conduct due diligence activities related to possible transactions with other financial institutions and financial services companies. As a result, merger or acquisition discussions and, in some cases, negotiations may take place and future mergers or acquisitions involving cash, debt or equity securities may occur. Acquisitions typically involve the payment of a premium over book and market values, and, therefore, some dilution of our tangible book value and net income per common share may occur in connection with any future transaction. Our ability to engage in certain merger or acquisition transactions, whether or not any regulatory approval is required, will be dependent upon our bank regulators’ views at the time as to the capital levels, quality of management and our overall condition and their assessment of a variety of other factors. Certain merger or acquisition transactions, including those involving the acquisition of a depository institution or the assumption of the deposits of any depository institution, require formal approval from various bank regulatory authorities, which will be subject to a variety of factors and considerations.
Although Cullen/Frost is a corporate entity, legally separate and distinct from its affiliates, bank holding companies such as Cullen/Frost are required to act as a source of financial strength for their subsidiary banks. The principal source of Cullen/Frost’s income is dividends from its subsidiaries. There are certain regulatory restrictions on the extent to which these subsidiaries can pay dividends or otherwise supply funds to Cullen/Frost. See the section captioned “Supervision and Regulation” elsewhere in this item for further discussion of these matters.
Cullen/Frost’s executive offices are located at 111 W. Houston Street, San Antonio, Texas 78205, and its telephone number is (210) 220-4011.
Frost Bank, the principal operating subsidiary and sole banking subsidiary of Cullen/Frost, is a Texas-chartered bank primarily engaged in the business of commercial and consumer banking through approximately 155 financial centers across Texas in the Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Permian Basin, Rio Grande Valley and San Antonio regions. Frost Bank also operates over 1,200 automated-teller machines (“ATMs”) throughout the State of Texas, approximately half of which are operated in connection with a branding arrangement to be the exclusive cash-machine provider for a convenience store chain in Texas. Frost Bank was originally chartered as a national banking association in 1899, but its origin can be traced to a mercantile partnership organized in 1868. At December 31, 2020, Frost Bank had consolidated total assets of $42.4 billion and total deposits of $35.4 billion and was one of the largest commercial banks headquartered in the State of Texas.
Significant services offered by Frost Bank include:
•Commercial Banking. Frost Bank provides commercial banking services to corporations and other business clients. Loans are made for a wide variety of general corporate purposes, including financing for industrial and commercial properties and to a lesser extent, financing for interim construction related to industrial and commercial properties, financing for equipment, inventories and accounts receivable, and acquisition financing. We also originate commercial leases and offer treasury management services.
•Consumer Services. Frost Bank provides a full range of consumer banking services, including checking accounts, savings programs, ATMs, overdraft facilities, installment and real estate loans, home equity loans and lines of credit, drive-in and night deposit services, safe deposit facilities and brokerage services.
•International Banking. Frost Bank provides international banking services to customers residing in or dealing with businesses located in Mexico. These services consist of accepting deposits (generally only in U.S. dollars), making loans (generally only in U.S. dollars), issuing letters of credit, handling foreign collections, transmitting funds, and to a limited extent, dealing in foreign exchange.
•Correspondent Banking. Frost Bank acts as correspondent for approximately 176 financial institutions, which are primarily banks in Texas. These banks maintain deposits with Frost Bank, which offers them a full range of services including check clearing, transfer of funds, fixed income security services, and securities custody and clearance services.
•Trust Services. Frost Bank provides a wide range of trust, investment, agency and custodial services for individual and corporate clients. These services include the administration of estates and personal trusts, as well as the management of investment accounts for individuals, employee benefit plans and charitable foundations. At December 31, 2020, the estimated fair value of trust assets was $38.6 billion, including managed assets of $16.9 billion and custody assets of $21.7 billion.
•Capital Markets - Fixed-Income Services. Frost Bank’s Capital Markets Division supports the transaction needs of fixed-income institutional investors. Services include sales and trading, new issue underwriting, money market trading, advisory services and securities safekeeping and clearance.
•Global TradeServices. Frost Bank's Global Trade Services Division supports international business activities including foreign exchange, international letters of credit and export-import financing, among other things.
Frost Insurance Agency, Inc.
Frost Insurance Agency, Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Frost Bank that provides insurance brokerage services to individuals and businesses covering corporate and personal property and casualty insurance products, as well as group health and life insurance products.
Frost Brokerage Services, Inc.
Frost Brokerage Services, Inc. (“FBS”) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Frost Bank that provides brokerage services and performs other transactions or operations related to the sale and purchase of securities of all types. FBS is registered as a fully disclosed introducing broker-dealer under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and, as such, does not hold any customer accounts.
Frost Investment Advisors, LLC is a registered investment advisor and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Frost Bank that provides investment management services to Frost-managed mutual funds, institutions and individuals.
Frost Investment Services, LLC
Frost Investment Services, LLC is a registered investment advisor and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Frost Bank that provides investment management services to individuals.
Tri-Frost Corporation is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Frost Bank that primarily holds securities for investment purposes and the receipt of cash flows related to principal and interest on the securities until such time that the securities mature.
Main Plaza Corporation
Main Plaza Corporation is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Cullen/Frost that occasionally makes loans to qualified borrowers. Loans are funded with current cash or borrowings against internal credit lines. Main Plaza also holds severed mineral interests on certain oil producing properties. We receive royalties on these interests based upon production.
Cullen/Frost Capital Trust II and WNB Capital Trust I
Cullen/Frost Capital Trust II (“Trust II”) is a Delaware statutory business trust formed in 2004 for the purpose of issuing $120.0 million in trust preferred securities and lending the proceeds to Cullen/Frost. Cullen/Frost guarantees, on a limited basis, payments of distributions on the trust preferred securities and payments on redemption of the trust preferred securities.
WNB Capital Trust I (“WNB Trust”) is a Delaware statutory business trust formed in 2004 for the purpose of issuing $13.0 million in trust preferred securities and lending the proceeds to WNB Bancshares (“WNB”). Cullen/Frost, as WNB's successor, guarantees, on a limited basis, payments of distributions on the trust preferred securities and payments on redemption of the trust preferred securities.
Trust II and WNB Trust are variable interest entities for which we are not the primary beneficiary. As such, the accounts of Trust II and WNB Trust are not included in our consolidated financial statements. See our accounting policy related to consolidation in Note 1 - Summary of Significant Accounting Policies in the notes to consolidated financial statements included in Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data elsewhere in this report.
Although the accounts of Trust II and WNB Trust are not included in our consolidated financial statements, the $120.0 million in trust preferred securities issued by Trust II and the $13.0 million in trust preferred securities issued by WNB Trust are included in the regulatory capital of Cullen/Frost during the reported periods. See the section captioned “Supervision and Regulation - Capital Requirements” for a discussion of the regulatory capital treatment of our trust preferred securities.
Cullen/Frost has various other subsidiaries that are not significant to the consolidated entity.
Our operations are managed along two reportable operating segments consisting of Banking and Frost Wealth Advisors. See the sections captioned “Results of Segment Operations” in Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations and Note 18 - Operating Segments in the notes to consolidated financial statements included in Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data elsewhere in this report.
There is significant competition among commercial banks in our market areas. In addition, we also compete with other providers of financial services, such as savings and loan associations, credit unions, consumer finance companies, securities firms, insurance companies, insurance agencies, commercial finance and leasing companies, full service brokerage firms and discount brokerage firms. Some of our competitors have greater resources and, as such, may have higher lending limits and may offer other services that are not provided by us. We generally compete on the basis of customer service and responsiveness to customer needs, available loan and deposit products, the rates of interest charged on loans, the rates of interest paid for funds, and the availability and pricing of trust, brokerage and insurance services. For further discussion, see the section captioned “We Operate In A Highly Competitive Industry and Market Area” in Item 1A. Risk Factors.
Supervision and Regulation
Cullen/Frost, Frost Bank and most of its non-banking subsidiaries are subject to extensive regulation under federal and state laws. The regulatory framework is intended primarily for the protection of depositors, federal deposit insurance funds and the banking system as a whole and not for the protection of shareholders and creditors.
Significant elements of the laws and regulations applicable to Cullen/Frost and its subsidiaries are described below. The description is qualified in its entirety by reference to the full text of the statutes, regulations and policies that are described. Also, such statutes, regulations and policies are continually under review by Congress and state legislatures and federal and state regulatory agencies. A change in statutes, regulations or regulatory policies applicable to Cullen/Frost and its subsidiaries could have a material effect on our business, financial condition or our results of operations.
Cullen/Frost is a legal entity separate and distinct from Frost Bank and its other subsidiaries. As a financial holding company and a bank holding company, Cullen/Frost is regulated under the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956, as amended (“BHC Act”), and it and its subsidiaries are subject to inspection, examination and supervision by the Federal Reserve Board. The BHC Act provides generally for “umbrella” regulation of financial holding companies such as Cullen/Frost by the Federal Reserve Board, and for functional regulation of banking activities by bank regulators, securities activities by securities regulators, and insurance activities by insurance regulators. Cullen/Frost is also under the jurisdiction of the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and is subject to the disclosure and regulatory requirements of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, as administered by the SEC. Cullen/Frost’s common stock is listed on the New York Stock Exchange (“NYSE”) under the trading symbol “CFR” and our Depositary Shares, each representing a 1/40th interest in a share of our 4.450% Non-Cumulative Perpetual Preferred Stock, Series B, is listed on the NYSE under the trading symbol “CFR PrB.” Accordingly, Cullen/Frost is also subject to the rules of the NYSE for listed companies.
Frost Bank is a Texas state chartered bank and a member of the Federal Reserve System. Accordingly, the Texas Department of Banking and the Federal Reserve Board are the primary regulators of Frost Bank. Deposits at Frost Bank are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (“FDIC”) up to applicable limits.
All member banks of the Federal Reserve System, including Frost Bank, are required to hold stock in the Federal Reserve System's Reserve Banks in an amount equal to six percent of their capital stock and surplus (half paid to acquire the stock with the remainder held as a cash reserve). Member banks do not have any control over the Federal Reserve System as a result of owning the stock and the stock cannot be sold or traded. The annual dividend rate for member banks with total assets in excess of $10 billion, including Frost Bank, is tied to 10-year U.S. Treasuries with the maximum dividend rate capped at six percent. The total amount of stock dividends that Frost Bank received from the Federal Reserve totaled $313 thousand in 2020, $688 thousand in 2019 and $1.0 million in 2018.
Most of our non-bank subsidiaries also are subject to regulation by the Federal Reserve Board and other federal and state agencies. Frost Brokerage Services, Inc. is regulated by the SEC, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) and state securities regulators. Frost Investment Advisors, LLC and Frost Investment Services, LLC are subject to the disclosure and regulatory requirements of the Investment Advisors Act of 1940, as administered by the SEC. Our insurance subsidiary is subject to regulation by applicable state insurance regulatory agencies. Other non-bank subsidiaries are subject to both federal and state laws and regulations. Frost Bank and its
affiliates are also subject to supervision, regulation, examination and enforcement by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) with respect to consumer protection laws and regulations.
Bank Holding Company Activities
In general, the BHC Act limits the business of bank holding companies to banking, managing or controlling banks and other activities that the Federal Reserve Board has determined to be so closely related to banking as to be a proper incident thereto. In addition, bank holding companies that qualify and elect to be financial holding companies may engage in any activity, or acquire and retain the shares of a company engaged in any activity, that is either (i) financial in nature or incidental to such financial activity (as determined by the Federal Reserve Board in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury) or (ii) complementary to a financial activity and does not pose a substantial risk to the safety and soundness of depository institutions or the financial system generally (as solely determined by the Federal Reserve Board), without prior approval of the Federal Reserve Board. Activities that are financial in nature include securities underwriting and dealing, insurance underwriting and making merchant banking investments.
To maintain financial holding company status, a financial holding company and all of its depository institution subsidiaries must be “well capitalized” and “well managed.” A depository institution subsidiary is considered to be “well capitalized” if it satisfies the requirements for this status discussed in the section captioned “Capital Adequacy and Prompt Corrective Action,” elsewhere in this item. A depository institution subsidiary is considered “well managed” if it received a composite rating and management rating of at least “satisfactory” in its most recent examination. A financial holding company’s status will also depend upon it maintaining its status as “well capitalized” and “well managed’ under applicable Federal Reserve Board regulations. If a financial holding company ceases to meet these capital and management requirements, the Federal Reserve Board’s regulations provide that the financial holding company must enter into an agreement with the Federal Reserve Board to comply with all applicable capital and management requirements. Until the financial holding company returns to compliance, the Federal Reserve Board may impose limitations or conditions on the conduct of its activities, and the company may not commence any of the broader financial activities permissible for financial holding companies or acquire a company engaged in such financial activities without prior approval of the Federal Reserve Board. If the company does not return to compliance within 180 days, the Federal Reserve Board may require divestiture of the holding company’s depository institutions. Bank holding companies and banks must also be both well capitalized and well managed in order to acquire banks located outside their home state.
In order for a financial holding company to commence any new activity permitted by the BHC Act or to acquire a company engaged in any new activity permitted by the BHC Act, each insured depository institution subsidiary of the financial holding company must have received a rating of at least “satisfactory” in its most recent examination under the Community Reinvestment Act. See the section captioned “Community Reinvestment Act” elsewhere in this item.
The Federal Reserve Board has the power to order any bank holding company or its subsidiaries to terminate any activity or to terminate its ownership or control of any subsidiary when the Federal Reserve Board has reasonable grounds to believe that continuation of such activity or such ownership or control constitutes a serious risk to the financial soundness, safety or stability of any bank subsidiary of the bank holding company.
The BHC Act, the Bank Merger Act, the Texas Banking Code and other federal and state statutes regulate acquisitions of commercial banks and their parent holding companies. The BHC Act requires the prior approval of the Federal Reserve Board for the direct or indirect acquisition by a bank holding company of more than 5.0% of the voting shares of a commercial bank or its parent holding company. Under the Bank Merger Act, the prior approval of the Federal Reserve Board or other appropriate bank regulatory authority is required for a member bank to merge with another bank or purchase substantially all of the assets or assume any deposits of another bank. In reviewing applications seeking approval of merger and acquisition transactions, the bank regulatory authorities will consider, among other things, the competitive effect and public benefits of the transactions, the applicant's managerial and financial resources, the capital position of the combined organization, the risks to the stability of the U.S. banking or financial system (e.g., systemic risk), the applicant’s performance record under the Community Reinvestment Act (see the section captioned “Community Reinvestment Act” elsewhere in this item) and its compliance with law, including fair housing and other consumer protection laws, and the effectiveness of the subject organizations in combating money laundering activities.
The principal source of Cullen/Frost’s liquidity is dividends from Frost Bank. The prior approval of the Federal Reserve Board is required if the total of all dividends declared by a state-chartered member bank in any calendar year would exceed the sum of the bank’s net profits for that year and its retained net profits for the preceding two calendar years, less any required transfers to surplus or to fund the retirement of preferred stock. Federal law also prohibits a state-chartered, member bank from paying dividends that would be greater than the bank’s undivided profits. Frost Bank is also subject to limitations under Texas state law regarding the level of dividends that may be paid. Under the foregoing dividend restrictions, and while maintaining its “well capitalized” status, Frost Bank could pay aggregate dividends of approximately $503.9 million to Cullen/Frost, without obtaining affirmative governmental approvals, at December 31, 2020. This amount is not necessarily indicative of amounts that may be paid or available to be paid in future periods.
In addition, Cullen/Frost and Frost Bank are subject to other regulatory policies and requirements relating to the payment of dividends, including requirements to maintain adequate capital above regulatory minimums. The appropriate federal regulatory authority is authorized to determine under certain circumstances relating to the financial condition of a bank holding company or a bank that the payment of dividends would be an unsafe or unsound practice and to prohibit payment thereof. Additionally, it is Federal Reserve policy that bank holding companies generally should pay dividends on common stock only out of net income available to common shareholders over the past year and only if the prospective rate of earnings retention appears consistent with the organization's current and expected future capital needs, asset quality and overall financial condition. Federal Reserve policy also provides that a bank holding company should inform the Federal Reserve reasonably in advance of declaring or paying a dividend that exceeds earnings for the period for which the dividend is being paid or that could result in a material adverse change to the bank holding company's capital structure.
In July 2019, the federal bank regulators adopted final rules (the “Capital Simplifications Rules”) that, among other things, eliminated the standalone prior approval requirement in the Basel III Capital Rules for any repurchase of common stock. In certain circumstances, Cullen/Frost’s repurchases of its common stock may be subject to a prior approval or notice requirement under other regulations, policies or supervisory expectations of the Federal Reserve Board. Any redemption or repurchase of preferred stock or subordinated debt remains subject to the prior approval of the Federal Reserve Board.
Transactions with Affiliates
Transactions between Frost Bank and its subsidiaries, on the one hand, and Cullen/Frost or any other subsidiary, on the other hand, are regulated under federal banking law. The Federal Reserve Act imposes quantitative and qualitative requirements and collateral requirements on covered transactions by Frost Bank with, or for the benefit of, its affiliates, and generally requires those transactions to be on terms at least as favorable to Frost Bank as if the transaction were conducted with an unaffiliated third party. Covered transactions are defined by statute to include a loan or extension of credit, as well as a purchase of securities issued by an affiliate, a purchase of assets (unless otherwise exempted by the Federal Reserve Board) from the affiliate, certain derivative transactions that create a credit exposure to an affiliate, the acceptance of securities issued by the affiliate as collateral for a loan, and the issuance of a guarantee, acceptance or letter of credit on behalf of an affiliate. In general, any such transaction by Frost Bank or its subsidiaries must be limited to certain thresholds on an individual and aggregate basis and, for credit transactions with any affiliate, must be secured by designated amounts of specified collateral.
Federal law also limits a bank’s authority to extend credit to its directors, executive officers and 10% stockholders, as well as to entities controlled by such persons. Among other things, extensions of credit to insiders are required to be made on terms that are substantially the same as, and follow credit underwriting procedures that are not less stringent than, those prevailing for comparable transactions with unaffiliated persons. Also, the terms of such extensions of credit may not involve more than the normal risk of non-repayment or present other unfavorable features and may not exceed certain limitations on the amount of credit extended to such persons individually and in the aggregate.
Federal Reserve Board policy and federal law require bank holding companies to act as a source of financial and managerial strength to their subsidiary banks. Under this requirement, Cullen/Frost is expected to commit resources to support Frost Bank, including at times when Cullen/Frost may not be in a financial position to provide such resources. Any capital loans by a bank holding company to any of its subsidiary banks are subordinate in right of payment to depositors and to certain other indebtedness of such subsidiary banks. In the event of a bank holding company’s bankruptcy, any commitment by the bank holding company to a federal bank regulatory agency to maintain the capital of a subsidiary bank will be assumed by the bankruptcy trustee and entitled to priority of payment.
Cullen/Frost and Frost Bank are each required to comply with applicable capital adequacy standards adopted by the Federal Reserve Board (the “Basel III Capital Rules”). Since fully phased in on January 1, 2019, the Basel III Capital Rules require Cullen/Frost and Frost Bank to maintain the following:
•A minimum ratio of Common Equity Tier 1 (“CET1”) to risk-weighted assets of at least 4.5%, plus a 2.5% “capital conservation buffer” that is composed entirely of CET1 capital (resulting in a minimum ratio of CET1 to risk-weighted assets of 7.0%);
•A minimum ratio of Tier 1 capital to risk-weighted assets of at least 6.0%, plus the capital conservation buffer (resulting in a minimum Tier 1 capital ratio of 8.5%);
•A minimum ratio of total capital (Tier 1 capital plus Tier 2 capital) to risk-weighted assets of at least 8.0%, plus the capital conservation buffer (resulting in a minimum total capital ratio of 10.5%); and
•A minimum leverage ratio of 4.0%, calculated as the ratio of Tier 1 capital to average consolidated assets as reported on consolidated financial statements (known as the “leverage ratio”).
Banking institutions that fail to meet the effective minimum ratios once the capital conservation buffer is taken into account, as detailed above, will be subject to constraints on capital distributions, including dividends and share repurchases, and certain discretionary executive compensation. The severity of the constraints depends on the amount of the shortfall and the institution’s “eligible retained income” (that is, the greater of (i) net income for the preceding four quarters, net of distributions and associated tax effects not reflected in net income and (ii) average net income over the preceding four quarters).
The Basel III Capital Rules and the Capital Simplification Rules also provide for a number of deductions from and adjustments to CET1. These include, for example, the requirement that certain deferred tax assets and significant investments in non-consolidated financial entities be deducted from CET1 to the extent that any one such category exceeds 25% of CET1. Prior to the adoption of the Capital Simplification Rules in July 2019, amounts were deducted from CET1 to the extent that any one such category exceeded 10% of CET1 or all such items, in the aggregate, exceeded 15% of CET1. The Capital Simplification Rules took effect for Cullen/Frost and Frost Bank as of January 1, 2020. These limitations did not impact our regulatory capital during any of the reported periods.
In addition, under the general risk-based capital rules, the effects of accumulated other comprehensive income items included in capital were excluded for the purposes of determining regulatory capital ratios. Under the Basel III Capital Rules, the effects of certain accumulated other comprehensive income items are not excluded; however, non-advanced approaches banking organizations, including Cullen/Frost and Frost Bank, were able to make a one-time permanent election to continue to exclude these items. Both Cullen/Frost and Frost Bank made this election in order to avoid significant variations in the level of capital depending upon the impact of interest rate fluctuations on the fair value of their available-for-sale securities portfolio. Under the Basel III Capital Rules, trust preferred securities no longer included in our Tier 1 capital may nonetheless be included as a component of Tier 2 capital on a permanent basis without phase-out.
In February 2019, the federal bank regulatory agencies issued a final rule (the “2019 CECL Rule”) that revised certain capital regulations to account for changes to credit loss accounting under U.S. GAAP. The 2019 CECL Rule included a transition option that allows banking organizations to phase in, over a three-year period, the day-one adverse effects of adopting a new accounting standard related to the measurement of current expected credit losses (“CECL”) on their regulatory capital ratios (three-year transition option). In March 2020, the federal bank regulatory agencies issued an interim final rule that maintains the three-year transition option of the 2019 CECL Rule and also
provides banking organizations that were required under U.S. GAAP (as of January 2020) to implement CECL before the end of 2020 the option to delay for two years an estimate of the effect of CECL on regulatory capital, relative to the incurred loss methodology’s effect on regulatory capital, followed by a three-year transition period (five-year transition option). We elected to adopt the five-year transition option. Accordingly, a CECL transitional amount totaling $63.7 million has been added back to CET1 as of December 31, 2020. The CECL transitional amount includes $29.3 million related to the cumulative effect of adopting CECL and $34.4 million related to the estimated incremental effect of CECL since adoption.
The Basel III Capital Rules prescribe a standardized approach for risk weightings that expanded the risk-weighting categories from the general risk-based capital rules to a much larger and more risk-sensitive number of categories, depending on the nature of the assets, generally ranging from 0% for U.S. government and agency securities, to 600% for certain equity exposures (and higher percentages for certain other types of interests), and resulting in higher risk weights for a variety of asset categories. In November 2019, the federal banking agencies adopted a rule revising the scope of commercial real estate mortgages subject to a 150% risk weight.
In December 2017, the Basel Committee published standards that it described as the finalization of the Basel III post-crisis regulatory reforms (the standards are commonly referred to as “Basel IV”). Among other things, these standards revise the Basel Committee's standardized approach for credit risk (including by recalibrating risk weights and introducing new capital requirements for certain “unconditionally cancellable commitments,” such as unused credit card lines of credit) and provides a new standardized approach for operational risk capital. Under the Basel framework, these standards will generally be effective on January 1, 2022, with an aggregate output floor phasing in through January 1, 2027. Under the current U.S. capital rules, operational risk capital requirements and a capital floor apply only to advanced approaches institutions, and not to Cullen/Frost or Frost Bank. The impact of Basel IV on us will depend on the manner in which it is implemented by the federal bank regulators.
The Basel III liquidity framework and regulations of the Federal Reserve require that certain banks and bank holding companies measure their liquidity against specific liquidity tests. One test, referred to as the liquidity coverage ratio (“LCR”), is designed to ensure that the banking entity maintains an adequate level of unencumbered high-quality liquid assets equal to the entity’s expected net cash outflow for a 30-day time horizon (or, if greater, 25% of its expected total cash outflow) under an acute liquidity stress scenario. The other test, referred to as the net stable funding ratio (“NSFR”), is designed to promote more medium- and long-term funding of the assets and activities of banking entities over a one-year time horizon. Rules applicable to certain large banking organizations have been implemented for LCR and for NSFR; however, based on our asset size, these rules do not currently apply to Cullen/Frost and Frost Bank.
Prompt Corrective Action
The Federal Deposit Insurance Act, as amended (“FDIA”), requires among other things, the federal banking agencies to take “prompt corrective action” in respect of depository institutions that do not meet minimum capital requirements. The FDIA includes the following five capital tiers: “well capitalized,” “adequately capitalized,” “undercapitalized,” “significantly undercapitalized” and “critically undercapitalized.”
A bank will be (i) “well capitalized” if the institution has a total risk-based capital ratio of 10.0% or greater, a CET1 capital ratio of 6.5% or greater, a Tier 1 risk-based capital ratio of 8.0% or greater, and a leverage ratio of 5.0% or greater, and is not subject to any order or written directive by any such regulatory authority to meet and maintain a specific capital level for any capital measure; (ii) “adequately capitalized” if the institution has a total risk-based capital ratio of 8.0% or greater, a CET1 capital ratio of 4.5% or greater, a Tier 1 risk-based capital ratio of 6.0% or greater, and a leverage ratio of 4.0% or greater and is not “well capitalized”; (iii) “undercapitalized” if the institution has a total risk-based capital ratio that is less than 8.0%, a CET1 capital ratio less than 4.5%, a Tier 1 risk-based capital ratio of less than 6.0% or a leverage ratio of less than 4.0%; (iv) “significantly undercapitalized” if the institution has a total risk-based capital ratio of less than 6.0%, a CET1 capital ratio less than 3.0%, a Tier 1 risk-based capital ratio of less than 4.0% or a leverage ratio of less than 3.0%; and (v) “critically undercapitalized” if the institution’s tangible equity is equal to or less than 2.0% of average quarterly tangible assets. An institution may be downgraded to, or deemed to be in, a capital category that is lower than indicated by its capital ratios if it is determined to be in an unsafe or unsound condition or if it receives an unsatisfactory examination rating with respect to certain matters. A bank’s capital category is determined solely for the purpose of applying prompt corrective
action regulations, and the capital category may not constitute an accurate representation of the bank’s overall financial condition or prospects for other purposes.
In addition, the FDIA prohibits an insured depository institution from accepting brokered deposits or offering interest rates on any deposits significantly higher than the prevailing rate in the bank’s normal market area or nationally (depending upon where the deposits are solicited), unless it is well capitalized or is adequately capitalized and receives a waiver from the FDIC. A depository institution that is adequately capitalized and accepts brokered deposits under a waiver from the FDIC may not pay an interest rate on any deposit in excess of 75 basis points over certain prevailing market rates. In December 2020, the FDIC finalized a rule that is intended to bring the brokered deposits regulations in line with modern deposit taking methods and that may reduce the amount of deposits that would be classified as brokered.
The FDIA generally prohibits a depository institution from making any capital distributions (including payment of a dividend) or paying any management fee to its parent holding company if the depository institution would thereafter be “undercapitalized.” “Undercapitalized” institutions are subject to growth limitations and are required to submit a capital restoration plan. The agencies may not accept such a plan without determining, among other things, that the plan is based on realistic assumptions and is likely to succeed in restoring the depository institution’s capital. In addition, for a capital restoration plan to be acceptable, the depository institution’s parent holding company must guarantee that the institution will comply with such capital restoration plan. The bank holding company must also provide appropriate assurances of performance. The aggregate liability of the parent holding company is limited to the lesser of (i) an amount equal to 5.0% of the depository institution’s total assets at the time it became undercapitalized and (ii) the amount which is necessary (or would have been necessary) to bring the institution into compliance with all capital standards applicable with respect to such institution as of the time it fails to comply with the plan. If a depository institution fails to submit an acceptable plan, it is treated as if it is “significantly undercapitalized.”
“Significantly undercapitalized” depository institutions may be subject to a number of requirements and restrictions, including orders to sell sufficient voting stock to become “adequately capitalized,” requirements to reduce total assets, and cessation of receipt of deposits from correspondent banks. “Critically undercapitalized” institutions are subject to the appointment of a receiver or conservator.
The appropriate federal banking agency may, under certain circumstances, reclassify a well capitalized insured depository institution as adequately capitalized. The FDIA provides that an institution may be reclassified if the appropriate federal banking agency determines (after notice and opportunity for hearing) that the institution is in an unsafe or unsound condition or deems the institution to be engaging in an unsafe or unsound practice. The appropriate agency is also permitted to require an adequately capitalized or undercapitalized institution to comply with the supervisory provisions as if the institution were in the next lower category (but not treat a significantly undercapitalized institution as critically undercapitalized) based on supervisory information other than the capital levels of the institution.
Cullen/Frost believes that, as of December 31, 2020, its bank subsidiary, Frost Bank, was “well capitalized” based on the aforementioned ratios. For further information regarding the capital ratios and leverage ratio of Cullen/Frost and Frost Bank see the discussion under the section captioned “Capital and Liquidity” included in Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations and Note 9 - Capital and Regulatory Matters in the notes to consolidated financial statements included in Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data, elsewhere in this report.
Safety and Soundness Standards
The FDIA requires the federal bank regulatory agencies to prescribe standards, by regulations or guidelines, relating to internal controls, information systems and internal audit systems, loan documentation, credit underwriting, interest rate risk exposure, asset growth, asset quality, earnings, stock valuation and compensation, fees and benefits, and such other operational and managerial standards as the agencies deem appropriate. Guidelines adopted by the federal bank regulatory agencies establish general standards relating to internal controls and information systems, internal audit systems, loan documentation, credit underwriting, interest rate exposure, asset growth and compensation, fees and benefits. In general, the guidelines require, among other things, appropriate systems and practices to identify and manage the risk and exposures specified in the guidelines. The guidelines prohibit excessive compensation as an unsafe and unsound practice and describe compensation as excessive when
the amounts paid are unreasonable or disproportionate to the services performed by an executive officer, employee, director or principal stockholder. In addition, the agencies adopted regulations that authorize, but do not require, an agency to order an institution that has been given notice by an agency that it is not satisfying any of such safety and soundness standards to submit a compliance plan. If, after being so notified, an institution fails to submit an acceptable compliance plan or fails in any material respect to implement an acceptable compliance plan, the agency must issue an order directing action to correct the deficiency and may issue an order directing other actions of the types to which an undercapitalized institution is subject under the “prompt corrective action” provisions of the FDIA. See “Prompt Corrective Action” above. If an institution fails to comply with such an order, the agency may seek to enforce such order in judicial proceedings and to impose civil money penalties.
Deposits at Frost Bank are insured up to applicable limits by the Deposit Insurance Fund (“DIF”) of the FDIC and Frost Bank is subject to deposit insurance assessments to maintain the DIF. Deposit insurance assessments are based on average total assets minus average tangible equity. For larger institutions, such as Frost Bank, the FDIC uses a performance score and a loss-severity score that are used to calculate an initial assessment rate. In calculating these scores, the FDIC uses a bank’s capital level and supervisory ratings and certain financial measures to assess an institution’s ability to withstand asset-related stress and funding-related stress. The FDIC has the ability to make discretionary adjustments to the total score based upon significant risk factors that are not adequately captured in the calculations.
Under the FDIA, the FDIC may terminate deposit insurance upon a finding that the institution has engaged in unsafe and unsound practices, is in an unsafe or unsound condition to continue operations, or has violated any applicable law, regulation, rule, order or condition imposed by the FDIC. In addition, the FDIC is authorized to conduct examinations of and require reporting by FDIC-insured institutions.
Enhanced Prudential Standards
The Federal Reserve Board is required to monitor emerging risks to financial stability and enact enhanced supervision and prudential standards applicable to large bank holding companies and certain non-bank covered companies designated as systemically important by the Financial Stability Oversight Council. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (the “Dodd-Frank Act”) mandates that certain regulatory requirements applicable to these systemically important financial institutions be more stringent than those applicable to other financial institutions. In 2019, the Federal Reserve Board adopted new rules impacting certain capital and liquidity requirements and other enhanced prudential standards. The final rules assign all domestic bank holding companies with $100 billion or more in total consolidated assets to one of four categories of tailored regulatory requirements. Cullen/Frost and Frost Bank are generally not impacted by these rules. The enhanced prudential standards rules, as amended in 2019, require publicly traded bank holding companies with $50 billion or more in total consolidated assets to establish risk committees. Prior to the amendment, the requirement to establish a risk committee was applicable to publicly traded bank holding companies with $10 billion or more in consolidated assets. Cullen/Frost has established and currently maintains a risk committee.
The Volcker Rule
The so-called Volcker Rule under the Dodd-Frank Act restricts banks and their affiliates from engaging in proprietary trading and investing in and sponsoring hedge funds and private equity funds. The Volcker Rule does not significantly impact the operations of Cullen/Frost and its subsidiaries as we do not have any engagement in the businesses prohibited by the Volcker Rule.
The FDIA provides that, in the event of the “liquidation or other resolution” of an insured depository institution, the claims of depositors of the institution, including the claims of the FDIC as subrogee of insured depositors, and certain claims for administrative expenses of the FDIC as a receiver, will have priority over other general unsecured claims against the institution. If an insured depository institution fails, insured and uninsured depositors, along with the FDIC, will have priority in payment ahead of unsecured, non-deposit creditors, including depositors whose deposits are payable only outside of the United States and the parent bank holding company, with respect to any extensions of credit they have made to such insured depository institution.
Under the Durbin Amendment to the Dodd-Frank Act, the Federal Reserve adopted rules establishing standards for assessing whether the interchange fees that may be charged with respect to certain electronic debit transactions are “reasonable and proportional” to the costs incurred by issuers for processing such transactions.
Interchange fees, or “swipe” fees, are charges that merchants pay to us and other card-issuing banks for processing electronic payment transactions. Federal Reserve Board rules applicable to financial institutions that have assets of $10 billion or more provide that the maximum permissible interchange fee for an electronic debit transaction is the sum of 21 cents per transaction and 5 basis points multiplied by the value of the transaction. An upward adjustment of no more than 1 cent to an issuer's debit card interchange fee is allowed if the card issuer develops and implements policies and procedures reasonably designed to achieve certain fraud-prevention standards. The Federal Reserve Board also has rules governing routing and exclusivity that require issuers to offer two unaffiliated networks for routing transactions on each debit or prepaid product.
Consumer Financial Protection
We are subject to a number of federal and state consumer protection laws that extensively govern our relationship with our customers. These laws include the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Truth in Lending Act, the Truth in Savings Act, the Electronic Fund Transfer Act, the Expedited Funds Availability Act, the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, the Fair Housing Act, the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the Service Members Civil Relief Act and these laws’ respective state-law counterparts, as well as state usury laws and laws regarding unfair and deceptive acts and practices. These and other federal laws, among other things, require disclosures of the cost of credit and terms of deposit accounts, provide substantive consumer rights, prohibit discrimination in credit transactions, regulate the use of credit report information, provide financial privacy protections, prohibit unfair, deceptive and abusive practices, restrict our ability to raise interest rates and subject us to substantial regulatory oversight. Violations of applicable consumer protection laws can result in significant potential liability from litigation brought by customers, including actual damages, restitution and attorneys’ fees. Federal bank regulators, state attorneys general and state and local consumer protection agencies may also seek to enforce consumer protection requirements and obtain these and other remedies, including regulatory sanctions, customer rescission rights, action by the state and local attorneys general in each jurisdiction in which we operate and civil money penalties. Failure to comply with consumer protection requirements may also result in our failure to obtain any required bank regulatory approval for merger or acquisition transactions we may wish to pursue or our prohibition from engaging in such transactions even if approval is not required.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) is a federal agency responsible for implementing, examining and enforcing compliance with federal consumer protection laws. The CFPB has broad rulemaking authority for a wide range of consumer financial laws that apply to all banks, including, among other things, the authority to prohibit “unfair, deceptive or abusive” acts and practices. Abusive acts or practices are defined as those that materially interfere with a consumer’s ability to understand a term or condition of a consumer financial product or service or take unreasonable advantage of a consumer’s (i) lack of financial savvy, (ii) inability to protect himself in the selection or use of consumer financial products or services, or (iii) reasonable reliance on a covered entity to act in the consumer’s interests. The CFPB can issue cease-and-desist orders against banks and other entities that violate consumer financial laws. The CFPB may also institute a civil action against an entity in violation of federal consumer financial law in order to impose a civil penalty or injunction. The CFPB has examination and enforcement authority over all banks with more than $10 billion in assets, as well as their affiliates. Banking regulators take into account compliance with consumer protection laws when considering approval of a proposed transaction.
Community Reinvestment Act
The Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 (“CRA”) requires depository institutions to assist in meeting the credit needs of their market areas consistent with safe and sound banking practice. Under the CRA, each depository institution is required to help meet the credit needs of its market areas by, among other things, providing credit to low- and moderate-income individuals and communities. Depository institutions are periodically examined for compliance with the CRA and are assigned ratings. In order for a financial holding company to commence any new activity permitted by the BHC Act, or to acquire any company engaged in any new activity permitted by the BHC Act, each insured depository institution subsidiary of the financial holding company must have received a rating of at least “satisfactory” in its most recent examination under the CRA. Furthermore, banking regulators take into
account CRA ratings when considering a request for an approval of a proposed transaction. Frost Bank received a rating of “satisfactory” in its most recent CRA examination.
In December 2019, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (“FDIC”) and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (“OCC”) jointly proposed rules that would significantly change existing CRA regulations. The proposed rules are intended to increase bank activity in low- and moderate-income communities where there is significant need for credit, more responsible lending, greater access to banking services, and improvements to critical infrastructure. The proposals change four key areas: (i) clarifying what activities qualify for CRA credit; (ii) updating where activities count for CRA credit; (iii) providing a more transparent and objective method for measuring CRA performance; and (iv) revising CRA-related data collection, record keeping, and reporting. However, the Federal Reserve Board did not join in that proposed rulemaking. In May 2020, the OCC issued its final CRA rule, effective October 1, 2020. The FDIC has not finalized the revisions to its CRA rule. In September 2020, the Federal Reserve Board issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“ANPR”) that invites public comment on an approach to modernize the regulations that implement the CRA by strengthening, clarifying, and tailoring them to reflect the current banking landscape and better meet the core purpose of the CRA. The ANPR seeks feedback on ways to evaluate how banks meet the needs of low- and moderate-income communities and address inequities in credit access. As such, we will continue to evaluate the impact of any changes to the regulations implementing the CRA and their impact to our financial condition, results of operations, and/or liquidity, which cannot be predicted at this time.
The federal banking regulators adopted rules that limit the ability of banks and other financial institutions to disclose non-public information about consumers to nonaffiliated third parties. These limitations require disclosure of privacy policies to consumers and, in some circumstances, allow consumers to prevent disclosure of certain personal information to a nonaffiliated third party. These regulations affect how consumer information is transmitted through diversified financial companies and conveyed to outside vendors.
Anti-Money Laundering and the USA Patriot Act
A major focus of governmental policy on financial institutions in recent years has been aimed at combating money laundering and terrorist financing. The USA PATRIOT Act of 2001, or the USA Patriot Act, substantially broadened the scope of United States anti-money laundering laws and regulations by imposing significant new compliance and due diligence obligations, creating new crimes and penalties and expanding the extra-territorial jurisdiction of the United States. Financial institutions are also prohibited from entering into specified financial transactions and account relationships and must use enhanced due diligence procedures in their dealings with certain types of high-risk customers and implement a written customer identification program. Financial institutions must take certain steps to assist government agencies in detecting and preventing money laundering and report certain types of suspicious transactions. Regulatory authorities routinely examine financial institutions for compliance with these obligations, and failure of a financial institution to maintain and implement adequate programs to combat money laundering and terrorist financing, or to comply with all of the relevant laws or regulations, could have serious financial, legal and reputational consequences for the institution, including causing applicable bank regulatory authorities not to approve merger or acquisition transactions when regulatory approval is required or to prohibit such transactions even if approval is not required. Regulatory authorities have imposed cease and desist orders and civil money penalties against institutions found to be violating these obligations.
The Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020 (“AMLA”), which amends the Bank Secrecy Act of 1970 (“BSA”), was enacted in January 2021. The AMLA is intended to be a comprehensive reform and modernization to U.S. bank secrecy and anti-money laundering laws. Among other things, it codifies a risk-based approach to anti-money laundering compliance for financial institutions; requires the development of standards for evaluating technology and internal processes for BSA compliance; expands enforcement- and investigation-related authority, including increasing available sanctions for certain BSA violations and instituting BSA whistleblower incentives and protections.
The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, or OFAC, administers and enforces economic and trade sanctions against targeted foreign countries and regimes, under authority of various laws, including designated foreign countries, nationals and others. OFAC publishes lists of specially designated targets and countries. We are responsible for, among other things, blocking accounts of, and transactions with, such targets and countries, prohibiting unlicensed trade and financial transactions with them and reporting blocked transactions after their occurrence. Failure to comply with these sanctions could have serious financial, legal and reputational consequences, including causing applicable bank regulatory authorities not to approve merger or acquisition transactions when regulatory approval is required or to prohibit such transactions even if approval is not required. Regulatory authorities have imposed cease and desist orders and civil money penalties against institutions found to be violating these obligations.
The Federal Reserve Board reviews, as part of its regular, risk-focused examination process, the incentive compensation arrangements of banking organizations, such as Cullen/Frost, that are not “large, complex banking organizations.” These reviews are tailored to each organization based on the scope and complexity of the organization’s activities and the prevalence of incentive compensation arrangements. Deficiencies will be incorporated into the organization’s supervisory ratings, which can affect the organization’s ability to make acquisitions and take other actions. Enforcement actions may be taken against a banking organization if its incentive compensation arrangements, or related risk-management control or governance processes, pose a risk to the organization’s safety and soundness and the organization is not taking prompt and effective measures to correct the deficiencies.
In June 2010, the Federal Reserve Board, OCC and FDIC issued comprehensive final guidance on incentive compensation policies intended to ensure that the incentive compensation policies of banking organizations do not undermine the safety and soundness of such organizations by encouraging excessive risk-taking. The guidance, which covers all employees that have the ability to materially affect the risk profile of an organization, either individually or as part of a group, is based upon the key principles that a banking organization’s incentive compensation arrangements should (i) provide incentives that do not encourage risk-taking beyond the organization’s ability to effectively identify and manage risks, (ii) be compatible with effective internal controls and risk management, and (iii) be supported by strong corporate governance, including active and effective oversight by the organization’s board of directors.
In 2016, the U.S. financial regulators, including the Federal Reserve Board and the SEC, proposed revised rules on incentive-based payment arrangements at specified regulated entities having at least $1 billion in total assets (including Cullen/Frost and Frost Bank), but these propose rules have not been finalized.
In March 2015, federal regulators issued two related statements regarding cybersecurity. One statement indicates that financial institutions should design multiple layers of security controls to establish lines of defense and to ensure that their risk management processes also address the risk posed by compromised customer credentials, including security measures to reliably authenticate customers accessing internet-based services of the financial institution. The other statement indicates that a financial institution’s management is expected to maintain sufficient business continuity planning processes to ensure the rapid recovery, resumption and maintenance of the institution’s operations after a cyber-attack involving destructive malware. A financial institution is also expected to develop appropriate processes to enable recovery of data and business operations and address rebuilding network capabilities and restoring data if the institution or its critical service providers fall victim to this type of cyber-attack. If we fail to observe the regulatory guidance, we could be subject to various regulatory sanctions, including financial penalties.
In October 2016, the federal banking regulators jointly issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking on enhanced cyber risk management standards that are intended to increase the operational resilience of large and interconnected entities under their supervision. If established, the enhanced cyber risk management standards would be designed to help reduce the potential impact of a cyber-attack or other cyber-related failure on the financial system. The advance notice of proposed rulemaking addresses five categories of cyber standards: (i) cyber risk governance; (ii) cyber risk management; (iii) internal dependency management; (iv) external dependency management; and (v) incident response, cyber resilience, and situational awareness. In May 2019, the Federal
Reserve announced that it would revisit the Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the future. In December 2020, the federal banking agencies issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would require banking organizations to notify their primary regulator within 36 hours of becoming aware of a “computer-security incident” or a “notification incident.” The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking also would require specific and immediate notifications by bank service providers that become aware of similar incidents.
In February 2018, the SEC published interpretive guidance to assist public companies in preparing disclosures about cybersecurity risks and incidents. These SEC guidelines, and any other regulatory guidance, are in addition to notification and disclosure requirements under state and federal banking law and regulations.
State regulators have also been increasingly active in implementing privacy and cybersecurity standards and regulations. Recently, several states have adopted regulations requiring certain financial institutions to implement cybersecurity programs and providing detailed requirements with respect to these programs, including data encryption requirements. Many states, including Texas, have also recently implemented or modified their data breach notification and data privacy requirements. We expect this trend of state-level activity in those areas to continue, and are continually monitoring developments in the states in which our customers are located.
In the ordinary course of business, we rely on electronic communications and information systems to conduct our operations and to store sensitive data. We employ an in-depth, layered, defensive approach that leverages people, processes and technology to manage and maintain cybersecurity controls. We employ a variety of preventative and detective tools to monitor, block, and provide alerts regarding suspicious activity, as well as to report on any suspected advanced persistent threats. Notwithstanding the strength of our defensive measures, the threat from cyber attacks is severe, attacks are sophisticated and increasing in volume, and attackers respond rapidly to changes in defensive measures. While to date, other than as described below, we have not detected a material compromise, material data loss or any material financial losses related to cybersecurity attacks, our systems and those of our customers and third-party service providers are under constant threat and attack and it is possible that we could experience significant events in the future. Risks and exposures related to cybersecurity attacks are expected to remain high for the foreseeable future due to the rapidly evolving nature and sophistication of these threats, as well as due to the expanding use of Internet banking, mobile banking and other technology-based products and services by us and our customers. See Item 1A. Risk Factors for a further discussion of risks related to cybersecurity.
During 2018, we experienced a data security incident that resulted in unauthorized access to a third-party lockbox software program used by certain of our commercial lockbox customers to store digital images. We stopped the identified unauthorized access and consulted with a leading cybersecurity firm. We reported the incident to, and cooperated with, law-enforcement authorities. We contacted each of the affected commercial customers and we supported them in taking appropriate actions. The identified incident did not impact other Frost systems. Out-of-pocket costs incurred related to this incident totaled $2.1 million and no further costs are expected with respect to this incident.
Future Legislation and Regulation
Congress may enact legislation from time to time that affects the regulation of the financial services industry, and state legislatures may enact legislation from time to time affecting the regulation of financial institutions chartered by or operating in those states. Federal and state regulatory agencies also periodically propose and adopt changes to their regulations or change the manner in which existing regulations are applied. The substance or impact of pending or future legislation or regulation, or the application thereof, cannot be predicted, although any change could impact the regulatory structure under which we or our competitors operate and may significantly increase costs, impede the efficiency of internal business processes, require an increase in regulatory capital, require modifications to our business strategy, and limit our ability to pursue business opportunities in an efficient manner. It could also affect our competitors differently than us, including in a manner that would make them more competitive. A change in statutes, regulations or regulatory policies applicable to Cullen/Frost or any of its subsidiaries could have a material, adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
At December 31, 2020, we employed 4,685 full-time equivalent employees. At that date, the average tenure of all of our full-time employees was over 10 years while the average tenure of our executive officers was over 31 years. None of our employees are represented by collective bargaining agreements. We believe our employee relations to be good.
Oversight of our corporate culture is an important element of our board of director’s oversight of risk because our people are critical to the success of our corporate strategy. Our board sets the “tone at the top,” and holds senior management accountable for embodying, maintaining, and communicating our culture to employees. In that regard, our culture is designed to promote commitment to making people's lives better and to uphold that principle in everything we do. That commitment has been a central pillar in our approach to our employees, our planet and the communities we have proudly served for over 150 years. Our culture is designed to adhere to the timeless values of integrity, caring and excellence. In keeping with that culture, we expect our people to treat each other and our customers with the highest level of honesty and respect, go out of their way to do the right thing, and we strive to be a force for good in everyday life. We dedicate resources to promote a safe and inclusive workplace; attract, develop and retain talented, diverse employees; promote a culture of integrity, caring and excellence; and reward and recognize employees for both the results they deliver and, importantly, how they deliver them. We also seek to design careers with our company that are fulfilling ones, with competitive compensation and benefits alongside a positive work-life balance. We also dedicate resources to fostering professional and personal growth with continuing education, on-the-job training and development programs. This devotion to our people has earned us a spot on Forbes magazine's Best Employers list.
Our employees are key to our success as an organization. We are committed to attracting, retaining and promoting top quality talent regardless of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, color, national origin, age, religion and physical ability. We strive to identify and select the best candidates for all open positions based on qualifying factors for each job. We are dedicated to providing a workplace for our employees that is inclusive, supportive, and free of any form of discrimination or harassment; rewarding and recognizing our employees based on their individual results and performance; and recognizing and respecting all of the characteristics and differences that make each of our employees unique.
We believe employing a diverse workforce enhances our ability to serve our customers and our communities. By promoting and fostering a workforce that we believe is reflective of our customers and communities, we seek to better understand the financial needs of our prospects and customers and provide them with relevant financial service products. Understanding and supporting our community has always been a priority to us. We have established a voluntary, employee-led and staffed team that is committed to touching and improving the lives of people that live and work in our community. Additionally, we provide employees the opportunity to use paid time off to perform community service activities in their choice of ways. In 2020, this amounted to over 7,100 hours of community service performed by our employees. Our efforts are designed to enrich the lives of not only those that are in need but also the lives of our employees who participate in these meaningful and rewarding opportunities.
We believe embracing and understanding diversity has and will continue to make us a stronger company. We also believe that our diverse workforce is representative of our customers in the community and enables us to better serve our customers, enhancing our success as an organization. As we move forward, we will continue to embrace diversity and approach it in a manner consistent with our philosophy, by focusing on our employees, our customers, and our community.
The names, ages as of December 31, 2020, recent business experience and positions or offices held by each of the executive officers of Cullen/Frost are as follows:
Name and Position Held
Recent Business Experience
Phillip D. Green Chairman of the Board, Chief Executive Officer and Director of Cullen/Frost
Officer of Frost Bank since July 1980. Group Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer of Cullen/Frost from October 1995 to January 2015. President of Cullen/Frost from January 2015 to March 2016. Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Cullen/Frost since April 2016.
Patrick B. Frost Director of Cullen/Frost, President of Frost Bank, Group Executive Vice President, Frost Wealth Advisors of Frost Bank and President of Frost Insurance
Officer of Frost Bank since 1985. President of Frost Bank from August 1993 to present. Director of Cullen/Frost from May 1997 to present. Group Executive Vice President, Frost Wealth Advisors of Frost Bank from April 2016 to present. President of Frost Insurance since October 2014.
Jerry Salinas Group Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer of Cullen/Frost
Officer of Frost Bank since March 1986. Senior Executive Vice President, Treasurer of Cullen/Frost from 1997 to January 2015. Group Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer of Cullen/Frost since January 2015.
Annette Alonzo Group Executive Vice President, Chief Human Resources Officer of Frost Bank
Officer of Frost Bank since 1993. Executive Vice President, Human Resources of Frost Bank from July 2006 to January 2015. Senior Executive Vice President, Human Resources of Frost Bank from January 2015 to July 2015. Group Executive Vice President, Human Resources of Frost Bank from July 2015 to March 2016. Group Executive Vice President, Chief Human Resources Officer of Frost Bank since April 2016.
Robert A. Berman Group Executive Vice President, Research and Strategy of Frost Bank
Officer of Frost Bank since January 1989. Group Executive Vice President, Research and Strategy of Frost Bank since May 2001.
Paul H. Bracher
President of Cullen/Frost and Group
Executive Vice President, Chief
Banking Officer of Frost Bank
Officer of Frost Bank since January 1982. President, State Regions of Frost Bank from February 2001 to January 2015. Group Executive Vice President, Chief Banking Officer of Frost Bank from January 2015 to present. President of Cullen/Frost since April 2016.
William L. Perotti Group Executive Vice President, Chief Credit Officer of Frost Bank
Officer of Frost Bank since December 1982. Group Executive Vice President, Chief Credit Officer of Frost Bank from May 2001 to January 2015. Group Executive Vice President, Chief Risk Officer of Frost Bank from April 2005 to January 2019. Chief Credit Officer of Frost Bank since January 2019.
Carol Severyn Group Executive Vice President, Chief Risk Officer of Frost Bank
Officer of Frost Bank since December 1993. Executive Vice President and Auditor of Frost Bank from January 2004 to January 2019. Group Executive Vice President, Chief Risk Officer of Frost Bank since January 2019.
Jimmy Stead Group Executive Vice President, Chief Consumer Banking Officer of Frost Bank
Officer of Frost Bank since July 2001. Senior Vice President Electronic Commerce Operations of Frost Bank from October 2007 to December 2015, Executive Vice President, Electronic Commerce Operations of Frost Bank from January 2016 to January 2017. Group Executive Vice President, Chief Consumer Banking Officer of Frost Bank since January 2017.
James L. Waters Group Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of Cullen/Frost
Officer of Frost Bank since March 2018. Group Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of Cullen/Frost since March 2018. Prior to joining Frost, Mr. Waters was a partner at the law firm Haynes and Boone LLP.
Candace Wolfshohl Group Executive Vice President, Culture and People Development of Frost Bank
Officer of Frost Bank since 1989. Executive Vice President, Staff Development of Frost Bank from January 2008 to January 2015. Senior Executive Vice President, Staff Development of Frost Bank from January 2015 to July 2015. Group Executive Vice President, Culture and People Development of Frost Bank since July 2015.
There are no arrangements or understandings between any executive officer of Cullen/Frost and any other person pursuant to which such executive officer was or is to be selected as an officer.
Under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, we are required to file annual, quarterly and current reports, proxy statements and other information with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). The SEC maintains a website at http://www.sec.gov that contains reports, proxy and information statements, and other information regarding issuers that file electronically with the SEC. We file electronically with the SEC.
We make available, free of charge through our website, our reports on Forms 10-K, 10-Q and 8-K, and amendments to those reports, as soon as reasonably practicable after such reports are filed with or furnished to the SEC. Additionally, we have adopted and posted on our website a code of ethics that applies to our principal executive officer, principal financial officer and principal accounting officer. Our website also includes our corporate governance guidelines and the charters for our audit committee, our compensation and benefits committee, our risk committee, and our corporate governance and nominating committee. The address for our website is http://www.frostbank.com. We will provide a printed copy of any of the aforementioned documents to any requesting shareholder.
ITEM 1A. RISK FACTORS
An investment in our common stock is subject to risks inherent to our business. The material risks and uncertainties that management believes affect us are described below. Before making an investment decision, you should carefully consider the risks and uncertainties described below together with all of the other information included or incorporated by reference in this report. The risks and uncertainties described below are not the only ones facing us. Additional risks and uncertainties that management is not aware of or focused on or that management currently deems immaterial may also impair our business operations. This report is qualified in its entirety by these risk factors. If any of the following risks actually occur, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be materially and adversely affected. If this were to happen, the market price of our common stock could decline significantly, and you could lose all or part of your investment.
Risks Related To Our Business
Interest Rate Risks
We Are Subject To Interest Rate Risk
Our earnings and cash flows are largely dependent upon our net interest income. Net interest income is the difference between interest income earned on interest-earning assets such as loans and securities and interest expense paid on interest-bearing liabilities such as deposits and borrowed funds. Interest rates are highly sensitive to many factors that are beyond our control, including general economic conditions and policies of various governmental and regulatory agencies and, in particular, the Federal Open Market Committee. Changes in monetary policy, including changes in interest rates, could influence not only the interest we receive on loans and securities and the amount of interest we pay on deposits and borrowings, but such changes could also affect (i) our ability to originate loans and obtain deposits, (ii) the fair value of our financial assets and liabilities, and (iii) the average duration of our mortgage-backed securities portfolio. If the interest rates paid on deposits and other borrowings increase at a faster rate than the interest rates received on loans and other investments, our net interest income, and therefore earnings, could be adversely affected. Earnings could also be adversely affected if the interest rates received on loans and other investments fall more quickly than the interest rates paid on deposits and other borrowings. Some foreign central banks have moved to a negative interest rate environment, which has exerted downward pressure on the profitability of banks in those regions and this interest rate trend could extend to the United States. Any substantial, unexpected, or prolonged change in market interest rates could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. See Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations under the section captioned “Net Interest Income” and Item 7A. Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk elsewhere in this report for further discussion related to interest rate sensitivity and our management of interest rate risk.
We May Be Adversely Impacted By The Transition From LIBOR As A Reference Rate
In 2017, the United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority announced that after 2021 it would no longer compel banks to submit the rates required to calculate the London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”). In November 2020, the administrator of LIBOR announced it will consult on its intention to extend the retirement date of certain offered rates whereby the publication of the one week and two month LIBOR offered rates will cease after December 31, 2021; but, the publication of the remaining LIBOR offered rates will continue until June 30, 2023. Given consumer protection, litigation, and reputation risks, the bank regulatory agencies have indicated that entering into new contracts that use LIBOR as a reference rate after December 31, 2021, would create safety and soundness risks and that they will examine bank practices accordingly. Therefore, the agencies encouraged banks to cease entering into new contracts that use LIBOR as a reference rate as soon as practicable and in any event by December 31, 2021.
It is not possible to predict what rate or rates may become accepted alternatives to LIBOR, or what the effect of any such changes in views or alternatives may be on the markets for LIBOR-indexed financial instruments. In particular, regulators, industry groups and certain committees (e.g., the Alternative Reference Rates Committee) have, among other things, published recommended fall-back language for LIBOR-linked financial instruments, identified recommended alternatives for certain LIBOR rates (e.g., AMERIBOR or the Secured Overnight Financing Rate as the recommended alternative to U.S. Dollar LIBOR), and proposed implementations of the recommended alternatives in floating rate instruments. At this time, it is not possible to predict whether these specific recommendations and proposals will be broadly accepted, whether they will continue to evolve, and what the effect of their implementation may be on the markets for floating-rate financial instruments.
We have a significant number of loans, derivative contracts, borrowings and other financial instruments with attributes that are either directly or indirectly dependent on LIBOR. The transition from LIBOR has resulted in and could continue to result in added costs and employee efforts and could present additional risk. Since proposed alternative rates are calculated differently, payments under contracts referencing new rates will differ from those referencing LIBOR. The transition will change our market risk profiles, requiring changes to risk and pricing models, valuation tools, product design and hedging strategies. Furthermore, failure to adequately manage this transition process with our customers could adversely impact our reputation. Although we are currently unable to assess what the ultimate impact of the transition from LIBOR will be, failure to adequately manage the transition could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Credit and Lending Risks
We Are Subject To Lending Risk and Lending Concentration Risk
There are inherent risks associated with our lending activities. These risks include, among other things, the impact of changes in interest rates and changes in the economic conditions in the markets where we operate as well as those across the State of Texas and the United States. Increases in interest rates and/or weakening economic conditions could adversely impact the ability of borrowers to repay outstanding loans or the value of the collateral securing these loans.
As of December 31, 2020, approximately 75.6% of our loan portfolio consisted of commercial and industrial, energy, construction and commercial real estate mortgage loans. These types of loans are generally viewed as having more risk of default and are typically larger than residential real estate loans or consumer loans. Because our loan portfolio contains a significant number of commercial and industrial, energy, construction and commercial real estate loans with relatively large balances, the deterioration of one or a few of these loans could cause a significant increase in non-performing loans. Increases in non-performing loans have resulted in a net loss of earnings from particular loans, an increase in credit loss expense and an increase in loan charge-offs, and these and future instances could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. See the section captioned “Loans” in Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations elsewhere in this report for further discussion related to commercial and industrial, energy, construction and commercial real estate loans.
Our Allowance For Credit Losses May Be Insufficient
We maintain allowances for credit losses on loans, securities and off-balance sheet credit exposures. In the case of loans and securities, allowances for credit losses are contra-asset valuation accounts that are deducted from the amortized cost basis of these assets to present the net amount expected to be collected. In the case of off-balance-sheet credit exposures, the allowance for credit losses is a liability account reported as a component of accrued interest payable and other liabilities in our consolidated balance sheets. The amount of each allowance account represents management's best estimate of current expected credit losses on these financial instruments considering available information, from internal and external sources, relevant to assessing exposure to credit loss over the contractual term of the instrument. Relevant available information includes historical credit loss experience, current conditions and reasonable and supportable forecasts. As a result, the determination of the appropriate level of allowance for credit losses inherently involves a high degree of subjectivity and requires us to make significant estimates related to current and expected future credit risks and trends, all of which may undergo material changes. Continuing deterioration in economic conditions affecting borrowers and securities issuers; new information regarding existing loans, credit commitments and securities holdings; and identification of additional problem loans, ratings down-grades and other factors, both within and outside of our control, may require an increase in the allowances for credit losses on loans, securities and off-balance sheet credit exposures. In addition, bank regulatory agencies periodically review our allowance for credit losses and may require an increase in credit loss expense or the recognition of further loan charge-offs, based on judgments different than those of management. Furthermore, if any charge-offs related to loans, securities or off-balance sheet credit exposures in future periods exceed our allowances for credit losses on loans, securities or off-balance sheet credit exposures, we will need to recognize additional credit loss expense to increase the applicable allowance. Any increase in the allowance for credit losses on loans, securities and/or off-balance sheet credit exposures will result in a decrease in net income and, possibly, capital, and may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. See the section captioned “Allowance for Credit Losses” in Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations elsewhere in this report for further discussion related to our process for determining the appropriate level of the allowance for credit losses.
We Are Subject to Risk Arising From Conditions In The Commercial Real Estate Market
As of December 31, 2020, commercial real estate mortgage loans comprised approximately 31.3% of our loan portfolio. Commercial real estate mortgage loans generally involve a greater degree of credit risk than residential real estate mortgage loans because they typically have larger balances and are more affected by adverse conditions in the economy. Because payments on loans secured by commercial real estate often depend upon the successful operation and management of the properties and the businesses which operate from within them, repayment of such loans may be affected by factors outside the borrower’s control, such as adverse conditions in the real estate market or the economy or changes in government regulations. In recent years, commercial real estate markets have been experiencing substantial growth, and increased competitive pressures have contributed significantly to historically low capitalization rates and rising property values. Furthermore, commercial real estate markets have been particularly impacted by the economic disruption resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Accordingly, the federal banking regulatory agencies have expressed concerns about weaknesses in the current commercial real estate market. Failures in our risk management policies, procedures and controls could adversely affect our ability to manage this portfolio going forward and could result in an increased rate of delinquencies in, and increased losses from, this portfolio, which, accordingly, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We Are Subject To Volatility Risk In Crude Oil Prices
As of December 31, 2020, we had $1.2 billion of energy loans which comprised approximately 7.1% (or 8.2% excluding Paycheck Protection Program loans) of our loan portfolio at that date. Furthermore, energy production and related industries represent a large part of the economies in some of our primary markets. In recent years, actions by certain members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (“OPEC”) impacting crude oil production levels have led to increased global oil supplies which has resulted in significant declines in market oil prices. Decreased market oil prices compressed margins for many U.S. and Texas-based oil producers, particularly those that utilize higher-cost production technologies such as hydraulic fracking and horizontal drilling, as well as oilfield service providers, energy equipment manufacturers and transportation suppliers, among others. In March of 2020, disagreements between members of OPEC signaled that production levels would rise and led to a significant decline in market oil prices. While oil prices have recovered from those recent lows, on-going oil price volatility and
depressed market oil prices, are expected to continue due to the uncertainties and economic impacts of COVID-19. The price per barrel of crude oil was approximately $48 at December 31, 2020 down from $61 at December 31, 2019. We have experienced increased losses within our energy portfolio in recent years which were impacted by oil price volatility, relative to our historical experience. Continued and further depressed oil prices and increased oil price volatility could have further negative impacts on the U.S. economy, in particular, the economies of energy-dominant states such as Texas, and our borrowers and customers.
We Are Subject To Environmental Liability Risk Associated With Lending Activities
A significant portion of our loan portfolio is secured by real property. During the ordinary course of business, we foreclose on and take title to properties securing certain loans. In doing so, there is a risk that hazardous or toxic substances could be found on these properties. If hazardous or toxic substances are found, we may be liable for remediation costs, as well as for personal injury and property damage. Environmental laws may require us to incur substantial expenses and may materially reduce the affected property’s value or limit our ability to use or ability to sell the affected property. Environmental reviews of real property before initiating foreclosure actions may not be sufficient to detect all potential environmental hazards. The remediation costs and any other financial liabilities associated with an environmental hazard could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We Are Subject To Liquidity Risk
We require liquidity to meet our deposit and debt obligations as they come due. Our access to funding sources in amounts adequate to finance our activities or on terms that are acceptable to us could be impaired by factors that affect us specifically or the financial services industry or economy generally. Factors that could reduce our access to liquidity sources include a downturn in the Texas economy, difficult credit markets or adverse regulatory actions against us. Our access to deposits may also be affected by the liquidity needs of our depositors. In particular, a substantial majority of our liabilities are demand, savings, interest checking and money market deposits, which are payable on demand or upon several days’ notice, while by comparison, a substantial portion of our assets are loans, which cannot be called or sold in the same time frame. We may not be able to replace maturing deposits and advances as necessary in the future, especially if a large number of our depositors sought to withdraw their accounts, regardless of the reason. A failure to maintain adequate liquidity could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our Accounting Estimates and Risk Management Processes Rely On Analytical and Forecasting Models
The processes we use to estimate our expected credit losses and to measure the fair value of financial instruments, as well as the processes used to estimate the effects of changing interest rates and other market measures on our financial condition and results of operations, depends upon the use of analytical and forecasting models. These models reflect assumptions that may not be accurate, particularly in times of market stress or other unforeseen circumstances. Even if these assumptions are adequate, the models may prove to be inadequate or inaccurate because of other flaws in their design or their implementation. If the models we use for interest rate risk and asset-liability management are inadequate, we may incur increased or unexpected losses upon changes in market interest rates or other market measures. If the models we use for estimating our expected credit losses are inadequate, the allowance for credit losses may not be sufficient to support future charge-offs. If the models we use to measure the fair value of financial instruments are inadequate, the fair value of such financial instruments may fluctuate unexpectedly or may not accurately reflect what we could realize upon sale or settlement of such financial instruments. Any such failure in our analytical or forecasting models could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
The Value Of Our Goodwill and Other Intangible Assets May Decline In The Future
As of December 31, 2020, we had $656.5 million of goodwill and other intangible assets. A significant decline in our expected future cash flows, a significant adverse change in the business climate, slower growth rates or a significant and sustained decline in the price of Cullen/Frost’s common stock may necessitate taking charges in the future related to the impairment of our goodwill and other intangible assets which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We Are Subject To Risk Arising From Failure Or Circumvention Of Our Controls and Procedures
Our internal controls, disclosure controls and procedures, and corporate governance policies and procedures are based in part on certain assumptions and can provide only reasonable, not absolute, assurances that the objectives of the system are met. Any failure or circumvention of our controls and procedures; failure to comply with regulations related to controls and procedures; or failure to comply with our corporate governance policies and procedures could have a material adverse effect on our reputation, business, financial condition and results of operations. Furthermore, notwithstanding the proliferation of technology and technology-based risk and control systems, our businesses ultimately rely on people as our greatest resource, and, from time-to-time, they make mistakes or engage in violations of applicable policies, laws, rules or procedures that are not always caught immediately by our technological processes or by our controls and other procedures, which are intended to prevent and detect such errors or violations. Human errors, malfeasance and other misconduct, including the intentional misuse of client information in connection with insider trading or for other purposes, even if promptly discovered and remediated, can result in reputational damage or legal risk and have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
New Lines Of Business, Products Or Services and Technological Advancements May Subject Us To Additional Risks
From time to time, we implement new lines of business or offer new products and services within existing lines of business. There are substantial risks and uncertainties associated with these efforts, particularly in instances where the markets are not fully developed. In developing and marketing new lines of business and/or new products and services we invest significant time and resources. Initial timetables for the introduction and development of new lines of business and/or new products or services may not be achieved and price and profitability targets may not prove feasible. External factors, such as compliance with regulations, competitive alternatives, and shifting market preferences, may also impact the successful implementation of a new line of business or a new product or service.
The financial services industry is continually undergoing rapid technological change with frequent introductions of new technology-driven products and services. Our future success depends, in part, upon our ability to address the needs of our customers by using technology to provide products and services that will satisfy customer demands, as well as to create additional efficiencies in our operations. Many of our competitors have substantially greater resources to invest in technological improvements. We may not be able to effectively implement new technology driven products and services or be successful in marketing these products and services to our customers. In addition, our implementation of certain new technologies, such as those related to artificial intelligence and algorithms, in our business processes may have unintended consequences due to their limitations or our failure to use them effectively. In addition, cloud technologies are also critical to the operation of our systems, and our reliance on cloud technologies is growing. Failure to successfully keep pace with technological change affecting the financial services industry could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Furthermore, any new line of business, new product or service and/or new technology could have a significant impact on the effectiveness of our system of internal controls. Failure to successfully manage these risks in the development and implementation of new lines of business, new products or services and/or new technologies could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our Reputation and Our Business Are Subject to Negative Publicity Risk
Reputation risk, or the risk to our earnings and capital from negative public opinion, is inherent in our business. Negative public opinion could adversely affect our ability to keep and attract customers and expose us to adverse legal and regulatory consequences. Negative public opinion could result from our actual or alleged conduct in any number of activities, including lending practices, corporate governance, regulatory compliance, mergers and acquisitions, and disclosure, sharing or inadequate protection of customer information, and from actions taken by government regulators and community organizations in response to that conduct. Negative public opinion could also
result from adverse news or publicity that impairs the reputation of the financial services industry generally. In addition, our reputation or prospects may be significantly damaged by adverse publicity or negative information regarding us, whether or not true, that may be posted on social media, non-mainstream news services or other parts of the internet, and this risk is magnified by the speed and pervasiveness with which information is disseminated through those channels. Because we conduct most of our business under the “Frost” brand, negative public opinion about one business could affect our other businesses.
Our Business, Financial Condition and Results Of Operations Are Subject To Risk From Changes in Customer Behavior
Individual, economic, political, industry-specific conditions and other factors outside of our control, such as fuel prices, energy costs, real estate values or other factors that affect customer income levels, could alter anticipated customer behavior, including borrowing, repayment, investment and deposit practices. Such a change in these practices could materially adversely affect our ability to anticipate business needs and meet regulatory requirements. Further, difficult economic conditions may negatively affect consumer confidence levels. A decrease in consumer confidence levels would likely aggravate the adverse effects of these difficult market conditions on us, our customers and others in the financial institutions industry.
Cullen/Frost Relies On Dividends From Its Subsidiaries For Most Of Its Revenue
Cullen/Frost is a separate and distinct legal entity from its subsidiaries. It receives substantially all of its revenue from dividends from its subsidiaries. These dividends are the principal source of funds to pay dividends on Cullen/Frost’s common stock and preferred stock and interest and principal on Cullen/Frost’s debt. Various federal and state laws and regulations limit the amount of dividends that Frost Bank and certain non-bank subsidiaries may pay to Cullen/Frost. Also, Cullen/Frost’s right to participate in a distribution of assets upon a subsidiary’s liquidation or reorganization is subject to the prior claims of the subsidiary’s creditors. In the event Frost Bank is unable to pay dividends to Cullen/Frost, Cullen/Frost may not be able to service debt, pay obligations or pay dividends on our common stock or our preferred stock. The inability to receive dividends from Frost Bank could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. See the section captioned “Supervision and Regulation” in Item 1. Business and Note 9 - Capital and Regulatory Matters in the notes to consolidated financial statements included in Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data elsewhere in this report.
Our Information Systems May Experience Failure, Interruption Or Breach In Security
In the ordinary course of business, we rely on electronic communications and information systems to conduct our operations and to store sensitive data. Any failure, interruption or breach in security of these systems could result in significant disruption to our operations. Information security breaches and cybersecurity-related incidents include, but are not limited to, attempts to access information, including customer and company information, malicious code, computer viruses and denial of service attacks that could result in unauthorized access, misuse, loss or destruction of data (including confidential customer information), account takeovers, unavailability of service or other events. These types of threats may derive from human error, fraud or malice on the part of external or internal parties, or may result from accidental technological failure. Our technologies, systems, networks and software have been and continue to be subject to cybersecurity threats and attacks, which range from uncoordinated individual attempts to sophisticated and targeted measures directed at us. See the section captioned “Supervision and Regulation - Cybersecurity” included in Item 1. Business elsewhere in this report for discussion of a data security incident we experienced in 2018. The risk of a security breach or disruption, particularly through cyber attack or cyber intrusion, has increased as the number, intensity and sophistication of attempted attacks and intrusions from around the world have increased.
Our customers and employees have been, and will continue to be, targeted by parties using fraudulent e-mails and other communications in attempts to misappropriate passwords, bank account information or other personal information or to introduce viruses or other malware through “Trojan horse” programs to our information systems, the information systems of our merchants or third party service providers and/or our customers' personal devices, which are beyond our security control systems. Though we endeavor to mitigate these threats through product improvements, use of encryption and authentication technology and customer and employee education, such cyber attacks against us, our merchants, our third party service providers and our customers remain a serious issue and have been successful in the past.
Even the most well protected information, networks, systems and facilities remain potentially vulnerable to attempted security breaches or disruptions because the techniques used in such attempts are constantly evolving and generally are not recognized until launched against a target, and in some cases are designed not to be detected and, in fact, may not be detected. Accordingly, we may be unable to anticipate these techniques or to implement adequate security barriers or other preventative measures, and thus it is virtually impossible for us to entirely mitigate this risk. While we maintain specific “cyber” insurance coverage, which would apply in the event of various breach scenarios, the amount of coverage may not be adequate in any particular case. Furthermore, because cyber threat scenarios are inherently difficult to predict and can take many forms, some breaches may not be covered under our cyber insurance coverage. A security breach or other significant disruption of our information systems or those related to our customers, merchants or our third party vendors, including as a result of cyber attacks, could (i) disrupt the proper functioning of our networks and systems and therefore our operations and/or those of certain of our customers; (ii) result in the unauthorized access to, and destruction, loss, theft, misappropriation or release of confidential, sensitive or otherwise valuable information of ours or our customers; (iii) result in a violation of applicable privacy, data breach and other laws, subjecting us to additional regulatory scrutiny and exposing us to civil litigation, governmental fines and possible financial liability; (iv) require significant management attention and resources to remedy the damages that result; or (v) harm our reputation or cause a decrease in the number of customers that choose to do business with us. The occurrence of any of the foregoing could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our Operations Rely On Certain External Vendors
We rely on certain external vendors to provide products and services necessary to maintain our day-to-day operations. These third party vendors are sources of operational and informational security risk to us, including risks associated with operational errors, information system interruptions or breaches and unauthorized disclosures of sensitive or confidential client or customer information. If these vendors encounter any of these issues, or if we have difficulty communicating with them, we could be exposed to disruption of operations, loss of service or connectivity to customers, reputational damage, and litigation risk that could have a material adverse effect on our business and, in turn, our financial condition and results of operations.
In addition, our operations are exposed to risk that these vendors will not perform in accordance with the contracted arrangements under service level agreements. Although we have selected these external vendors carefully, we do not control their actions. The failure of an external vendor to perform in accordance with the contracted arrangements under service level agreements, because of changes in the vendor’s organizational structure, financial condition, support for existing products and services or strategic focus or for any other reason, could be disruptive to our operations, which could have a material adverse effect on our business and, in turn, our financial condition and results of operations. Replacing these external vendors could also entail significant delay and expense.
We Are Subject To Litigation Risk Pertaining To Fiduciary Responsibility
From time to time, customers make claims and take legal action pertaining to our performance of our fiduciary responsibilities. Whether customer claims and legal action related to our performance of our fiduciary responsibilities are founded or unfounded, if such claims and legal actions are not resolved in a manner favorable to us they may result in significant financial liability and/or adversely affect the market perception of us and our products and services as well as impact customer demand for those products and services. Any financial liability or reputational damage could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We Are Subject To Litigation Risk Pertaining To Intellectual Property
Banking and other financial services companies, including us, rely on technology companies to provide information technology products and services necessary to support day-to-day operations. Technology companies frequently enter into litigation based on allegations of patent infringement or other violations of intellectual property rights. In addition, patent holding companies seek to monetize patents they have purchased or otherwise obtained. Competitors of our vendors, or other individuals or companies, have from time to time claimed to hold intellectual property sold to us by our vendors and we are, and may in the future be, named as defendants in various related litigation. Such claims may increase in the future as the financial services sector becomes more reliant on information technology vendors. The plaintiffs in these actions frequently seek injunctions and substantial damages and may also seek to enter into licensing agreements with us to obtain ongoing fees.
Regardless of the scope or validity of such patents or other intellectual property rights, or the merits of any claims by potential or actual litigants, we may have to engage in protracted litigation. Such litigation is often expensive, time-consuming, disruptive to our operations and distracting to management. If we are found to infringe upon one or more patents or other intellectual property rights, we may be required to pay substantial damages or royalties to a third-party. In certain cases, we may consider entering into licensing agreements for disputed intellectual property, although no assurance can be given that such licenses can be obtained on acceptable terms or that litigation will not occur. These licenses may also significantly increase our operating expenses. If legal matters related to intellectual property claims were resolved against us or settled, we could be required to make payments in amounts that could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Financial Services Companies Depend On The Accuracy and Completeness Of Information About Customers and Counterparties
In deciding whether to extend credit or enter into other transactions, we rely on information furnished by or on behalf of customers and counterparties, including financial statements, credit reports and other financial information. We also rely on representations of those customers, counterparties or other third parties, such as independent auditors, as to the accuracy and completeness of that information. Reliance on inaccurate or misleading financial statements, credit reports or other financial information could have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
External and Market-Related Risks
Our Profitability Depends Significantly On Economic Conditions In The State Of Texas
Our success depends primarily on the general economic conditions of the State of Texas and the specific local markets in which we operate. Unlike larger national or other regional banks that are more geographically diversified, we provide banking and financial services to customers across Texas through financial centers in the Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Permian Basin, Rio Grande Valley and San Antonio regions. The local economic conditions in these areas have a significant impact on the demand for our products and services as well as the ability of our customers to repay loans, the value of the collateral securing loans and the stability of our deposit funding sources. Moreover, all of the securities in our municipal bond portfolio were issued by political subdivisions or agencies within the State of Texas. A significant decline in general economic conditions in Texas, whether caused by recession, inflation, unemployment, changes or prolonged stagnation in oil prices, changes in securities markets, acts of terrorism, outbreak of hostilities or other international or domestic occurrences or other factors could impact these local economic conditions and, in turn, have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We Are Subject to Risk Arising From The Soundness Of Other Financial Institutions and Counterparties
Financial services institutions are interrelated as a result of trading, clearing, counterparty, or other relationships. We have exposure to many different industries and counterparties, and routinely execute transactions with counterparties in the financial services industry, including commercial banks, brokers and dealers, investment banks, and other institutional clients. Many of these transactions expose us to credit risk in the event of a default by a counterparty or client. In addition, our credit risk may be exacerbated when the collateral held by us cannot be realized upon or is liquidated at prices not sufficient to recover the full amount of the credit or derivative exposure due to us. Any such losses could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We Operate In A Highly Competitive Industry and Market Area
We face substantial competition in all areas of our operations from a variety of different competitors, many of which are larger and may have more financial resources than us. Such competitors primarily include national, regional, and community banks within the various markets where we operate. Recent regulation has reduced the regulatory burden of large bank holding companies, and raised the asset thresholds at which more onerous requirements apply, which could cause certain large bank holding companies with less than $250 billion in total consolidated assets, which were previously subject to more stringent enhanced prudential standards, to become more competitive or to pursue expansion more aggressively.
We also face competition from many other types of financial institutions, including, without limitation, savings and loans, credit unions, finance companies, brokerage firms, insurance companies and other financial intermediaries. The financial services industry could become even more competitive as a result of legislative, regulatory and technological changes and continued consolidation.
Also, technology and other changes have lowered barriers to entry and made it possible for non-banks to offer products and services traditionally provided by banks. In particular, the activity of financial technology companies (“fintechs”) has grown significantly over recent years and is expected to continue to grow. Fintechs have and may continue to offer bank or bank-like products and a number of fintechs have applied for bank or industrial loan charters. In addition, other fintechs have partnered with existing banks to allow them to offer deposit products to their customers.
Additionally, consumers can maintain funds that would have historically been held as bank deposits in brokerage accounts or mutual funds. Consumers can also complete transactions such as paying bills and/or transferring funds directly without the assistance of banks. The process of eliminating banks as intermediaries, known as “disintermediation,” could result in the loss of fee income, as well as the loss of customer deposits and the related income generated from those deposits. Further, many of our competitors have fewer regulatory constraints and may have lower cost structures than us. Additionally, due to their size, many competitors may be able to achieve economies of scale and, as a result, may offer a broader range of products and services as well as better pricing for those products and services than we can. Our ability to compete successfully depends on a number of factors, including, among other things, (i) the ability to develop, maintain and build long-term customer relationships based on top quality service, high ethical standards and safe, sound assets; (ii) the ability to expand within our marketplace and with our market position; (iii) the scope, relevance and pricing of products and services offered to meet customer needs and demands; (iv) the rate at which we introduce new products and services relative to our competitors; (v) customer satisfaction with our level of service; and (vi) industry and general economic trends. Failure to perform in any of these areas could significantly weaken our competitive position, which could adversely affect our growth and profitability, which, in turn, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Compliance and Regulatory Risks
We Are Subject To Extensive Government Regulation and Supervision and Related Enforcement Powers and Other Legal Remedies
We, primarily through Cullen/Frost, Frost Bank and certain non-bank subsidiaries, are subject to extensive federal and state regulation and supervision, which vests a significant amount of discretion in the various regulatory authorities. Banking regulations are primarily intended to protect depositors’ funds, federal deposit insurance funds and the banking system as a whole, not security holders. These regulations and supervisory guidance affect our lending practices, capital structure, investment practices, dividend policy and growth, among other things. Congress and federal regulatory agencies continually review banking laws, regulations and policies for possible changes. Changes to statutes, regulations or regulatory policies or supervisory guidance, including changes in interpretation or implementation of statutes, regulations, policies or supervisory guidance, could affect us in substantial and unpredictable ways. Such changes could subject us to additional costs, limit the types of financial services and products we may offer and/or increase the ability of non-banks to offer competing financial services and products, among other things. Failure to comply with laws, regulations, policies or supervisory guidance could result in enforcement and other legal actions by Federal or state authorities, including criminal and civil penalties, the loss of FDIC insurance, the revocation of a banking charter, enforcement actions or sanctions by regulatory agencies, significant fines and civil money penalties and/or reputational damage. In this regard, government authorities, including the bank regulatory agencies, are pursuing aggressive enforcement actions with respect to compliance and other legal matters involving financial activities, which heightens the risks associated with actual and perceived compliance failures. Directives issued to enforce such actions may be confidential and thus, in some instances, we are not permitted to publicly disclose these actions. Any of the foregoing could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. See the sections captioned “Supervision and Regulation” included in Item 1. Business and Note 9 - Capital and Regulatory Matters in the notes to consolidated financial statements included in Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data elsewhere in this report.
The Repeal Of Federal Prohibitions On Payment Of Interest On Demand Deposits Could Increase Our Interest Expense
All federal prohibitions on the ability of financial institutions to pay interest on demand deposit accounts were repealed as part of the Dodd-Frank Act beginning on July 21, 2011. As a result, some financial institutions offer interest on demand deposits to compete for customers. We do not yet know what interest rates other institutions may offer as market interest rates increase. Our interest expense will increase and our net interest margin will decrease if we begin offering interest on demand deposits to attract additional customers or maintain current customers, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We Are Subject To Government Regulation and Oversight Relating to Data and Privacy Protection
Our business requires the collection and retention of large volumes of customer data, including personally identifiable information in various information systems that we maintain and in those maintained by third parties with whom we contract to provide data services. We also maintain important internal company data such as personally identifiable information about our employees and information relating to our operations. The integrity and protection of that customer and company data is important to us. Our collection of such customer and company data is subject to extensive regulation and oversight.
We are subject to laws and regulations relating to the privacy of the information of our clients, employees or others, and any failure to comply with these laws and regulations could expose us to liability and/or reputational damage. As new privacy-related laws and regulations are implemented, the time and resources needed for us to comply with such laws and regulations, as well as our potential liability for non-compliance and reporting obligations in the case of data breaches, may significantly increase.
Risks Related to Acquisition Activity
Potential Acquisitions May Disrupt Our Business and Dilute Stockholder Value
We generally seek merger or acquisition partners that are culturally similar and have experienced management and possess either significant market presence or have potential for improved profitability through financial management, economies of scale or expanded services. Acquiring other banks, businesses, or branches involves various risks commonly associated with acquisitions, including, among other things, (i) potential exposure to unknown or contingent liabilities of the target company; (ii) exposure to potential asset quality issues of the target company; (iii) potential disruption to our business; (iv) potential diversion of our management’s time and attention; (v) the possible loss of key employees and customers of the target company; (vi) difficulty in estimating the value of the target company; and (vii) potential changes in banking or tax laws or regulations that may affect the target company.
Acquisitions typically involve the payment of a premium over book and market values, and, therefore, some dilution of our tangible book value and net income per common share may occur in connection with any future transaction. Furthermore, failure to realize the expected revenue increases, cost savings, increases in geographic or product presence, and/or other projected benefits from an acquisition could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Acquisitions May Be Delayed, Impeded, Or Prohibited Due To Regulatory Issues
Acquisitions by financial institutions, including us, are subject to approval by a variety of federal and state regulatory agencies (collectively, “regulatory approvals”). The process for obtaining these required regulatory approvals has become substantially more difficult since the global financial crisis, and our ability to engage in certain merger or acquisition transactions depends on the bank regulators' views at the time as to our capital levels, quality of management, and overall condition, in addition to their assessment of a variety of other factors, including our compliance with law. Regulatory approvals could be delayed, impeded, restrictively conditioned or denied due to existing or new regulatory issues we have, or may have, with regulatory agencies, including, without limitation, issues related to Bank Secrecy Act compliance, Community Reinvestment Act issues, fair lending laws, fair housing laws, consumer protection laws, unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices regulations and other laws and regulations. We may fail to pursue, evaluate or complete strategic and competitively significant acquisition opportunities as a result of our inability, or perceived or anticipated inability, to obtain regulatory approvals in a timely manner, under reasonable conditions or at all. Difficulties associated with potential acquisitions that may
result from these factors could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Risks Associated With Our Common Stock
The Trading Volume In Our Common Stock Is Less Than That Of Other Larger Financial Services Companies
Although our common stock is listed for trading on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), the trading volume in our common stock is less than that of other, larger financial services companies. A public trading market having the desired characteristics of depth, liquidity and orderliness depends on the presence in the marketplace of willing buyers and sellers of our common stock at any given time. This presence depends on the individual decisions of investors and general economic and market conditions over which we have no control. Given the lower trading volume of our common stock, significant sales of our common stock, or the expectation of these sales, could cause our stock price to fall.
Cullen/Frost May Not Continue To Pay Dividends On Its Common Stock In The Future
Holders of Cullen/Frost common stock are only entitled to receive such dividends as its board of directors may declare out of funds legally available for such payments. Although Cullen/Frost has historically declared cash dividends on its common stock, it is not required to do so and may reduce or eliminate its common stock dividend in the future. This could adversely affect the market price of Cullen/Frost’s common stock. Also, Cullen/Frost is a bank holding company, and its ability to declare and pay dividends is dependent on certain federal regulatory considerations, including the guidelines of the Federal Reserve Board regarding capital adequacy and dividends.
As more fully discussed in Note 9 - Capital and Regulatory Matters in the notes to consolidated financial statements included in Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data elsewhere in this report, our ability to declare or pay dividends on our common stock may also be subject to certain restrictions in the event that we elect to defer the payment of interest on our junior subordinated deferrable interest debentures or do not declare and pay dividends on our Series B Preferred Stock.
An Investment In Our Common Stock Is Not An Insured Deposit
Our common stock is not a bank deposit and, therefore, is not insured against loss by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), any other deposit insurance fund or by any other public or private entity. Investment in our common stock is inherently risky for the reasons described in this “Risk Factors” section and elsewhere in this report and is subject to the same market forces that affect the price of common stock in any company. As a result, if you acquire our common stock, you could lose some or all of your investment.
Certain Banking Laws May Have An Anti-Takeover Effect
Provisions of federal banking laws, including regulatory approval requirements, could make it more difficult for a third party to acquire us, even if doing so would be perceived to be beneficial to our shareholders. These provisions effectively inhibit a non-negotiated merger or other business combination, which, in turn, could adversely affect the market price of our common stock.
Risks Related to the COVID-19 Pandemic
Our business, financial condition, liquidity and results of operations have been, and will likely continue to be, adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created economic and financial disruptions that have adversely affected, and are likely to continue to adversely affect, our business, financial condition, liquidity and results of operations. The extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to negatively affect our business, financial condition, liquidity and results of operations will depend on future developments, which are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted and many of which are outside of our control, including the scope and duration of the pandemic, the effectiveness of our Business Continuity and Health Emergency Response plans, the direct and indirect impact of the pandemic on our employees, customers, clients, counterparties and service providers, as well as other market participants, and actions taken, or that may yet be taken, or inaction, by governmental authorities and other third parties in response to the pandemic.
•Increased unemployment and business disruption and decreased consumer and business confidence and consumer and commercial activity generally, leading to an increased risk of delinquencies, defaults and foreclosures.
•Higher and more volatile credit loss expense and potential for increased charge-offs, particularly as customers may need to draw on their committed credit lines to help finance their businesses and activities.
•Ratings downgrades, credit deterioration and defaults in many industries, particularly energy, retail/strip centers, hotels/lodging, restaurants, entertainment and commercial real estate.
•A sudden and significant reduction in the valuation of the equity, fixed-income and commodity markets and the significant increase in the volatility of those markets.
•A decrease in the rates and yields on U.S. Treasury securities, which may lead to decreased net interest income.
•Increased demands on capital and liquidity, leading us to cease repurchases of our common stock in order to preserve capital and provide added liquidity.
•A reduction in the value of the assets that we manage or otherwise administer or service for others, affecting related fee income and demand for our services.
•Heightened cybersecurity, information security and operational risks as a result of a remote workforce and impacts on our service providers.
Any disruption to our ability to deliver financial products or services to, or interact with, our clients and customers could result in losses or increased operational costs, regulatory fines, penalties and other sanctions, or harm our reputation.
As noted in the section captioned “Recent Developments Related to COVID-19” in Part II. Financial Information, Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations elsewhere in this report, the Federal Reserve has taken various actions and the U.S. government has enacted several fiscal stimulus measures to counteract the economic disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and provide economic assistance to individual households and businesses, stabilize the markets and support economic growth. The ultimate success of these measures is unknown and they may not be sufficient to fully mitigate the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. We face an increased risk of litigation and governmental, regulatory and third-party scrutiny as a result of the effects of COVID-19 on market and economic conditions and actions governmental authorities take in response to those conditions. Furthermore, various governmental programs such as the PPP are complex and our participation may lead to additional litigation and governmental, regulatory and third-party scrutiny, negative publicity and damage to our reputation. For further discussion of litigation, see Note 8 – Off-Balance-Sheet Arrangements, Commitments, Guarantees, and Contingencies in the notes to consolidated financial statements included in Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data elsewhere in this report. In addition, our participation in the PPP as a lender may adversely affect our revenue and results of operations depending on the timing and amount of forgiveness, if any, to which our borrowers will be entitled.
The length of the pandemic and the efficacy of the extraordinary measures being put in place to address it are unknown. Until the pandemic subsides, we expect continued draws on lines of credit, reduced fee income and revenues related to investment management, insurance and brokerage operations and increased customer and client defaults, including defaults of unsecured loans. Even after the pandemic subsides, the U.S. economy may continue to experience a recession, and we anticipate our businesses would be materially and adversely affected by a prolonged recession. To the extent the pandemic adversely affects our business, financial condition, liquidity or results of operations, it may also have the effect of heightening many of the other risks described below. See the section captioned “Recent Developments Related to COVID-19” in Part II. Financial Information, Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations elsewhere in this report for further discussion.
We are Subject To Risk From Fluctuating Conditions In The Financial Markets and Economic and Political Conditions Generally
Our success depends, to a certain extent, upon local, national and global economic and political conditions, as well as governmental monetary policies. Our financial performance generally, and in particular the ability of borrowers to pay interest on and repay principal of outstanding loans and the value of collateral securing those loans, as well as demand for loans and other products and services we offer, is highly dependent upon the business environment in the markets where we operate, in the State of Texas and in the United States as a whole. A favorable business environment is generally characterized by, among other factors, economic growth, efficient capital markets, low inflation, low unemployment, high business and investor confidence, and strong business earnings. Unfavorable or uncertain economic and market conditions can be caused by a decline in economic growth both in the U.S. and internationally; declines in business activity or investor or business confidence; limitations on the availability of or increases in the cost of credit and capital; increases in inflation or interest rates; high unemployment; oil price volatility; natural disasters; trade policies and tariffs; or a combination of these or other factors. While recent economic conditions in the State of Texas, the United States and worldwide have seen improving trends since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there can be no assurance that this improvement will continue. Economic pressure on consumers and uncertainty regarding continuing economic improvement could result in changes in consumer and business spending, borrowing and savings habits. Such conditions could have a material adverse effect on the credit quality of our loans and our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Changes In The Federal, State Or Local Tax Laws May Negatively Impact Our Financial Performance and We Are Subject To Examinations and Challenges By Tax Authorities
We are subject to federal and applicable state tax laws and regulations. Changes in these tax laws and regulations, some of which may be retroactive to previous periods, could increase our effective tax rates and, as a result, could negatively affect our current and future financial performance. Furthermore, tax laws and regulations are often complex and require interpretation. In the normal course of business, we are routinely subject to examinations and challenges from federal and applicable state tax authorities regarding the amount of taxes due in connection with investments we have made and the businesses in which we have engaged. Recently, federal and state taxing authorities have become increasingly aggressive in challenging tax positions taken by financial institutions. These tax positions may relate to tax compliance, sales and use, franchise, gross receipts, payroll, property and income tax issues, including tax base, apportionment and tax credit planning. The challenges made by tax authorities may result in adjustments to the timing or amount of taxable income or deductions or the allocation of income among tax jurisdictions. If any such challenges are made and are not resolved in our favor, they could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We May Need To Raise Additional Capital In The Future, and Such Capital May Not Be Available When Needed Or At All
We may need to raise additional capital in the future to provide us with sufficient capital resources and liquidity to meet our commitments and business needs, particularly if our asset quality or earnings were to deteriorate significantly. Our ability to raise additional capital, if needed, will depend on, among other things, conditions in the capital markets at that time, which are outside of our control, and our financial condition. Economic conditions and the loss of confidence in financial institutions may increase our cost of funding and limit access to certain customary sources of capital, including inter-bank borrowings, repurchase agreements and borrowings from the discount window of the Federal Reserve.
We cannot assure that such capital will be available on acceptable terms or at all. Any occurrence that may limit our access to the capital markets, such as a decline in the confidence of debt purchasers, depositors of Frost Bank or counterparties participating in the capital markets, or a downgrade of Cullen/Frost’s or Frost Bank’s debt ratings, may adversely affect our capital costs and our ability to raise capital and, in turn, our liquidity. Moreover, if we need to raise capital in the future, we may have to do so when many other financial institutions are also seeking to raise capital and would have to compete with those institutions for investors. An inability to raise additional capital on acceptable terms when needed could have a materially adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Stock price volatility may make it more difficult for you to resell your common stock when you want and at prices you find attractive. Our stock price can fluctuate significantly in response to a variety of factors including, among other things, (i) actual or anticipated variations in quarterly results of operations; (ii) recommendations by securities analysts; (iii) operating and stock price performance of other companies that investors deem comparable to us; (iv) news reports relating to trends, concerns and other issues in the financial services industry; (v) perceptions in the marketplace regarding us and/or our competitors; (vi) new technology used, or services offered, by competitors; (vii) the issuance by us of additional securities, including common stock and securities that are convertible into or exchangeable for, or that represent the right to receive, common stock; (viii) sales of a large block of shares of our common stock or similar securities in the market after an equity offering, or the perception that such sales could occur; (ix) significant acquisitions or business combinations, strategic partnerships, joint ventures or capital commitments by or involving us or our competitors; (x) failure to integrate acquisitions or realize anticipated benefits from acquisitions; (xi) changes in government regulations; and (xii) geopolitical conditions such as acts or threats of terrorism or military conflicts.
General market fluctuations, including real or anticipated changes in the strength of the Texas economy; industry factors and general economic and political conditions and events, such as economic slowdowns or recessions; and interest rate changes, oil price volatility or credit loss trends could also cause our stock price to decrease regardless of operating results.
Changes In Accounting Standards Could Materially Impact Our Financial Statements
From time to time accounting standards setters change the financial accounting and reporting standards that govern the preparation of our financial statements. These changes can be difficult to predict and can materially impact how we record and report our financial condition and results of operations. In some cases, we could be required to apply a new or revised standard retroactively, resulting in changes to previously reported financial results or a cumulative charge to retained earnings. See Note 20 - Accounting Standards Updates in the notes to consolidated financial statements included in Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data elsewhere in this report for further information regarding pending accounting standards updates.
We May Not Be Able To Attract and Retain Skilled People
Our success depends, in large part, on our ability to attract and retain key people. Competition for the best people in many activities engaged in by us is intense and we may not be able to hire people or to retain them. We do not currently have employment agreements or non-competition agreements with any of our senior officers. The unexpected loss of services of key personnel could have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition and results of operations because of their customer relationships, skills, knowledge of our market, years of industry experience and the difficulty of promptly finding qualified replacement personnel. In addition, the scope and content of U.S. banking regulators' policies on incentive compensation, as well as changes to these policies, could adversely affect our ability to hire, retain and motivate our key employees.
Severe Weather, Natural Disasters, Acts Of War Or Terrorism and Other External Events Could Significantly Impact Our Business
Severe weather, natural disasters, acts of war or terrorism and other adverse external events could have a significant impact on our ability to conduct business. In addition, such events could affect the stability of our deposit base, impair the ability of borrowers to repay outstanding loans, impair the value of collateral securing loans, cause significant property damage, result in loss of revenue and/or cause us to incur additional expenses. Furthermore, the occurrence of any such event in the future could have a material adverse effect on our business, which, in turn, could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.
Our headquarters is located in downtown San Antonio, Texas. These facilities, which we lease, house our executive and primary administrative offices, as well as the principal banking headquarters of Frost Bank. We also own or lease other facilities within our primary market areas in the regions of Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Permian Basin, Rio Grande Valley and San Antonio. We consider our properties to be suitable and adequate for our present needs.
ITEM 3. LEGAL PROCEEDINGS
We are subject to various claims and legal actions that have arisen in the course of conducting business. Management does not expect the ultimate disposition of these matters to have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
ITEM 5. MARKET FOR REGISTRANT’S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES
Market for Our Common Stock
Our common stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange, Inc. (“NYSE”) under the symbol “CFR”. As of December 31, 2020, there were 63,011,240 shares of our common stock outstanding held by 1,094 holders of record. The closing price per share of common stock on December 31, 2020, the last trading day of our fiscal year, was $87.23.
Stock-Based Compensation Plans
Information regarding stock-based compensation awards outstanding and available for future grants as of December 31, 2020, segregated between stock-based compensation plans approved by shareholders and stock-based compensation plans not approved by shareholders, is presented in the table below. Additional information regarding stock-based compensation plans is presented in Note 11 - Employee Benefit Plans in the notes to consolidated financial statements included in Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data elsewhere in this report.
Number of Shares to be Issued Upon Exercise of Outstanding Awards
Weighted-Average Exercise Price of Outstanding Awards
Number of Shares Available for Future Grants
Plans approved by shareholders
Plans not approved by shareholders
(1)Includes 1,739,559 shares related to stock options, 470,359 shares related to non-vested stock units, 52,860 shares related to director deferred stock units and 201,257 shares related to performance stock units (assuming attainment of the maximum payout rate as set forth by the performance criteria).
(2)Excludes outstanding stock units which are exercised for no consideration.
Stock Repurchase Plans
From time to time, our board of directors has authorized stock repurchase plans. In general, stock repurchase plans allow us to proactively manage our capital position and return excess capital to shareholders. Shares purchased under such plans also provide us with shares of common stock necessary to satisfy obligations related to stock compensation awards. On July 24, 2019, our board of directors authorized a $100.0 million stock repurchase program, allowing us to repurchase shares of our common stock over a one-year period from time to time at various prices in the open market or through private transactions. Under this plan, we repurchased 177,834 shares at a total cost of $13.7 million during the first quarter of 2020 and 202,724 shares at a total cost of $17.2 million during 2019. Under prior stock repurchase programs, we repurchased 496,307 shares at a total cost of $50.0 million during 2019 and 1,027,292 shares at a total cost of $100.0 million during 2018
The following table provides information with respect to purchases made by or on behalf of us or any “affiliated purchaser” (as defined in Rule 10b-18(a)(3) under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934), of our common stock during the fourth quarter of 2020.
Total Number of Shares Purchased
Average Price Paid Per Share
Total Number of Shares Purchased as Part of Publicly Announced Plans
Maximum Number (or Approximate Dollar Value) of Shares That May Yet Be Purchased Under the Plans at the End of the Period
October 1, 2020 to October 31, 2020
November 1, 2020 to November 30, 2020
December 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020
(1)Repurchases made in connection with the vesting of certain share awards.
The performance graph below compares the cumulative total shareholder return on Cullen/Frost Common Stock with the cumulative total return on the equity securities of companies included in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Stock Index and the Standard and Poor’s 500 Bank Index, measured at the last trading day of each year shown. The graph assumes an investment of $100 on December 31, 2015 and reinvestment of dividends on the date of payment without commissions. The performance graph represents past performance and should not be considered to be an indication of future performance.